Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Love of Money (1 Timothy 6:10)

SCRIPTURE: 1 Timothy 6:10 (CEB)
The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some have wandered away from the faith and have impaled themselves with a lot of pain because they made money their goal.

In 1928 a group of the world's most successful financiers met at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago. The following were present: The president of the largest utility company, The greatest wheat speculator, The president of the New York Stock Exchange, A member of the President's Cabinet, The greatest "bear" in Wall Street, The president of the Bank of International Settlements, The head of the world's greatest monopoly. Collectively, these tycoons controlled more wealth than there was in the U.S. Treasury, and for years newspapers and magazines had been printing their success stories and urging the youth of the nation to follow their examples. Twenty-five years later, this is what had happened to these men:
The president of the largest independent steel company, Charles Schwab, lived on borrowed money the last five years of his life and died broke. 
The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cutten, died abroad, insolvent. 
The president of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, served a term in Sing Sing Prison. 
The member of the President's Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home. 
The greatest "bear" in Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, committed suicide. 
The president of the Bank of International Settlements, Leon Fraser, committed suicide. 
The head of the world's greatest monopoly, Ivar Drueger, committed suicide. 
All of these men had learned how to make money, but not one of them had learned how to live.

Learning how to live is a challenge. Learning how to balance living with the resources of living is entirely another matter. What drives us from day to day?

Years ago I overheard a conversation between three USF med students. They had just finished their rotation through the various fields of medicine. They were discussing which kind of medicine they were going to practice. It was a sad conversation because none of them spoke of the good they were going to be able to do nor where their strengths/skills lie nor what excited their minds and spirits. No, each one spoke about how much money they would be able to earn in their particular field of choice. It is a matter of judgment on my part, but I feel that those three med students were not going to make very good doctors. The motivation was all wrong.

Pastors are somewhat guilty of the same mistakes. Years ago during the gathering of clergy and laity at the annual conference I was struck by the general conversations of my colleagues. It centered on size and salary – the size of the membership, average worship attendance and the financial benefits of serving their particular church. The following year I determined to avoid the “standard” conversation starters/drivers which resulted in shorter conversations and a lot of silence.

Money is a necessary evil in life. It is hard to live without it. Even if we joined a religious order that required a vow of poverty money still factors into putting a roof over our heads and food on the table.

Paul was speaking to Timothy about some things the young believer needed to avoid. Love of money was at the top of the list. It creates all sorts of evil if it becomes ones goal.

And so the question remains: What is our goal in life? What drives us? What motivates us? What shapes our life? These are not easily answered nor should they be. God means for us to struggle with them as we determine how to spend the resources of today – time, talent, gifts and service.

Direct the paths of our mind and soul today so that we will be motivated by you and not by our love of stuff. 

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