This essay is a slightly revised version of a talk that I gave at St Andrew’s Cathedral in 2010.
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:9-10).
In the passage that we have just read, Paul warns his young prodigy, Timothy, as he begins his ministry as a pastor of the dangers of an inordinate love for money. It is the root of all kinds of evil, Paul says. It will result in foolish and harmful desires. It will bring people to ruin and destruction. It will cause them to wander from their faith. It will pierce them with much grief. The Bible calls an inordinate love for money and material possessions greed and covetousness, and roundly condemns it. But what if human greed is given some form of religious, theological or spiritual legitimization? What if covetousness is disguised and portrayed instead as reward for obedience to God, or as an answer to the prayer of faith? What if the godless materialism that the Bible warns about is sanctioned and given respectability by the clever twisting of certain texts from Scripture itself? What if our sinful insatiability for material wealth is disguised in the language of faith and divine blessing? What if wealth and prosperity are said to be the rights of every believer in Christ? And what if it is taught that unimaginable prosperity is guaranteed when the believer takes certain steps and follows certain laws that would unlock the treasuries of heaven, and that this is the will of God? What if Christianity is packaged and promoted as a religion that guarantees affluence, material wealth, success and health?
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