Poor Dollars, Pennies, Cents, Rupees, Yens, Lire, Riyals, Dinars and all the other various currency denominations! How much are they blamed for being the root of all evil in society! I pity the predicament of the bloodless, lifeless and soulless numeric entities for bearing this burden of guilt sealed onto them from ages long across all civilizations.
Money is just a medium of exchange determined by human beings. In the ancient days, people bought and sold goods and services mostly by the barter system. With the invention of money, metallic coins and paper currency gained predominance. Today, most of us prefer money to be faceless, paperless and cashless – limiting money to mere numbers. Yet the craving for these numbers never ceases in the human heart. The more one has, the more one wants.
Is money to be blamed for this desire in the human heart? It’s just a lifeless medium of exchange after all! It is not aware of its existence. It doesn’t have a mind to scheme evil. It doesn’t have a heart to entice men towards it.
Money, as such, is not the root of evil. It is the love of money in the human heart that is the root of all kinds of evil!
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1Timothy 6:10)
Who has not heard of brother killing brother over wealth and property, or wives being tortured and even burnt for dowry (especially in Indian context), or the poor exploited by the rich who flaunt their money power? Kidnappings and extortion bids are made for money. Women seek sugar daddies for money. People don’t hesitate to gamble with relationships, emotions and values for monetary gains. Commercial establishments make the most of people’s desire to acquire things by advertising discounts and sales in different forms, all the year round – and people end up spending money to buy more than their needs – often winding up in debts or huge credit card bills!
Money does not have any power of its own. But, power has been attributed to money by the human mind, thereby enthroning it as one of the mightiest power centres. And so, money seems to rule the world. Individuals strategize to increase their finances. Nations struggle to improve their GDP. There is no limit to this aspiration; there is no threshold for satiation. There is just an unending desire in the heart to let money increase.
The wise king Solomon opined centuries before, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) The vain desire for riches always remains alive in the human heart. ‘Enough’ is not a word widely popular in economic parlance.
Is it then wrong to be rich?
Not exactly! God has made the whole world for man to inhabit, explore, be fruitful and replenish it. The core desire of God’s heart for man is prosperity and abundance. However, God intends man to be aware of the eternal riches as well and not limit his desires to transitory riches that can be enjoyed on earth alone. Earthly riches ensure a life of comfort on earth. Moreover, many of man’s material aspirations can be fulfilled by money. However, as the heart yearns for more and more riches, it drifts away from God and His design for man.
Jesus Christ said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
With investment plans and savings schemes being big players in the financial market today, seldom can one stop thinking about money!
The glitter of money sets booby traps for many. These booby traps exhibit a mirage of fulfillment to allure people. Some such illusory traps that money creates are:
- Money gives confidence – Ever had unpaid bills pile up on your desk with the purse empty? How do you feel? You feel as if your confidence is being drained out. Once you have your paycheck in hand or the salary credited to your account, you start beaming with confidence. This is a natural response that comes from within us. However, if we lift money to a pedestal where we make it a source of our confidence, we are entrapped! Money sure makes us confident of meeting our needs and wants, but we must not replace our confidence that finds its source in God, with money. The psalmist says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1) God is the Divine Provider for His children. That is enough reason for being confident to meet our needs and wants even when we do not have a penny in hand.
- Money gives security – I have been amazed at times to see people live frugal lives while having huge bank balances (not because they desire to practise modest living standards). While it is wise to save for rainy days and for unprecedented life demands, it surely is not wise to rob today of its joy and fulfillment for a secure tomorrow – a tomorrow which may never come, given the uncertainty of life. Jesus said, “. . . do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34) Having money stacked away sure gives a sense of security, but when we make money our source of security, we shift our eyes away from God and make money our safe haven. God is our source of Divine Security. The Lord says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
- Money in hand ensures peace of mind – When you have enough in the coffers, you are assured of mental peace. There is no tension and no worry as far as finances are concerned. For each need and want, you know that there is enough. But, then this peace is not long-lasting. Firstly, because one has to constantly replenish the depleting resources. Secondly, with taxmen prying on everyone, one has to look for tax saving mechanisms – which in effect are nothing but more expenditures. So yes, money does create an illusion of peace, but fails to provide lasting peace. Jesus Christ offers Everlasting Peace. He said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you . . .” (John 14:27) With Jesus in our lives, money or no money there will dwell a peace in the heart that surpasses all understanding.
- Money brings happiness – Money takes us to places. Money fetches us things. Money helps fulfill certain aspirations. But, does it have the capability to generate happiness? I doubt. The World Happiness Report, a publication of the United Nations gives annual rankings to countries on happiness index. ‘Economics’ is just one of the fields that is measured in the survey. Had economy been the sole criteria for happiness, the rich countries of the world would have always emerged as top rankers. People living in big bungalows and leading luxurious lives are not necessarily the happiest people on earth. Their struggles are known to them alone. Hence, money merely creates an illusion of happiness – but is not the sole deliverer of it. Happiness is often idolised a lot in such a way that we don’t hesitate to go to extreme ends to make ourselves or our loved ones happy. But in doing so, we tend to miss the mark. Happiness makes us dependent on external sources – people or objects or circumstances. Once these sources of happiness are absent, the happiness vanishes. However, what is lasting is joy. Joy doesn’t depend on external situations (not the least on money); it emanates from within. It is a gift of God – a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23).
All the above are illusions attributed to money by men. And, the evil that is so much attributed to money is in effect the evil of the human heart. So, if you decide to get rid of all your possessions and riches overnight, hoping to get rid of the evil in your life, you won’t be successful. What is needed is to purge evil from the heart and be cleansed from within.
A rich young man once expressed his interest about eternal life. He was a person who had been following all the rituals religiously and had been obeying all commandments righteously. Jesus, told him to sell all his possessions to the poor and to then follow Him. The man went away sad. He could not let go of his riches! At this Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven!” (Matthew 19:23) Not that riches pose a barrier to eternity, but that the heart that is so attached to riches cannot let go of it. “. . . You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
Have treasures, but don’t let your heart be inclined towards them. Do not harbour a greed for money. Do not invite sorrow into your life by indiscriminate spending or mindless borrowing. Don’t use up all your life energy in the pursuit of money. Guard your heart. Let it not drift towards evil for the sake of money. It is not worth to lose eternal blessings for the sake of earthly fulfillment. Jesus Christ said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)
My Prayer for us: Lord, protect us from being entrapped by the lure of money. Let no evil gain root in our hearts for the sake of money. Purge out all evil and cleanse us. Amen.