I have a confession to make: I love money. I love the physical feel of money; the weight of the coins and the pleasant jingle they make in my purse. The brightly coloured notes, especially when there's a whole stack to fan through. Such fun!
But my love runs deeper than just enjoying the feel of money. I love when numbers on a screen represent money.
For me, money is security. Money is the key to having the things I need - food, shelter, clothing - as well as the things I want - junk food, a big shelter and lots of clothing, entertainment, gadgets, etc.
I know that I love money because I fear it too. I fear losing it. I fear not having enough. Sometimes, looking at the bank account is enough to dictate whether I feel secure or worried.
And as someone working in ministry, who relies on financial support for a wage and in an earlier time married to a theological student with Centrelink payments, I'm probably more worried than satisfied most of the time.
Now, in reality, I have no need to be worried. I have a home to live in, nice, comfortable clothes to wear and more than enough to eat. And yes, I know my current situation is one I have chosen to be in. But how easily I become discontent when, instead of focussing on the good things I have, I look around and play the comparison game! Or I wish away my present situation and think I'll be more content when we have more money!
Common to us
I wonder if you ever feel the same? Do you ever wish you could win the lottery? Or do you imagine going on 'Deal or No Deal' and walking away with a fine sum? Yet experience says that even people who have done these things aren't satisfied! Lottery winners often fritter away their winnings and fail to build any wealth. Sometimes they end up worse off than before they won the money! Contestants on Deal or No Deal refuse a reasonable sum of money in the hope of gaining more - but end up losing it all!
But we're so convinced that we'll be different. We would treat it differently; invest the lottery winnings wisely, accept a decent offer on Deal or No Deal. And maybe we could, if we weren't enslaved to money!
The love of money isn't a modern problem. And it's not just a problem with money itself. It's an external symptom of a deeper disease of the heart.
Our attitude to money is a great indicator of what - or who - is most important in our lives. Whatever we love, we serve. And whatever we serve, we become enslaved and consumed by – whether it be God, money, work, career, happiness, etc.
For a Christian, the love of money is an especially dangerous problem.
Why is this so? Well, the Bible (God's words) contains so many warnings about the love of money we cannot afford not to take notice.
Here are few;
1. You cannot love God AND money. You might think you can, but you're fooling yourself.
Matthew chapter 6 verse 24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
2. Love of money can lead you away from faith in God.
1 Timothy chapter 6 verse 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
3. Money will never satisfy.
Ecclesiastes chapter 5 verse 10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
4. Loving money excludes us from eternal life in God's kingdom
Mark chapter 10 verses 24-25 But Jesus said again, "Children how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the kingdom of God."
Disclaimer: Money itself is not a bad thing!
Of course I'm not saying money itself is evil. Like everything in this world, it can be used for good or evil. It can bring hope or horror. But I'm focussing on the love of money - what happens when money becomes entwined - perhaps subtly - with our hopes, fears and well-being.
So what's the antidote? How do I stop loving money and start serving God?
Antidote 1: Find something else to love and focus on that is even more worthwhile than money.
The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' (Matthew 22 verse 37). Loving God is putting Him first. It's trusting Him, and acting in line with that trust.
Antidote 2: Recognise who God is; He's the provider of all things - even money - that we need in life! Trust His promises to provide and take care of me.
Matthew chapter 6 verses 31-33 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Antidote 3: Use money to serve God, rather than myself.
Matthew chapter 6 verses 19-21 - "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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Ultimately, money does not last. I can't take it with me when I die. It won't stop me from dying.
Stop being enslaved to money. It might bring happiness - but only for a fleeting moment. It might bring security - but it will not last.
The ultimate antidote to loving money is to love something else. And the only other thing that's worth loving is God.
Sarah Urmston lives in Toowoomba with her husband, Stephen. She loves God, her family, writing, colouring in, crochet, and creating lists. Sarah works full-time at home and seeks to faithfully serve Jesus in many different ways using the time she's given.
Sarah Urmston's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sarah-urmston.html