Money: Evil’s Root

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have.
Hebrews 13:5 NLT

“Money is the root of all evil.”

Though my standard of living would be considered rich by third-world standards, by American standards I’ve rarely lived a comfortable lifestyle. Making the monthly bills match the monthly income has always been a challenge. In spite of that, I’ve made the mistake more than once of buying things I didn’t need. My grandmother and mother often said, “That money is burning a hole in your pocket.” All the while, I was thinking, Well if I had more, maybe it wouldn’t. And somewhere along the line, someone would comment, “You know, the Bible says, “Money is the root of all evil.’” And I would mumble under my breath, No, it doesn’t. I was a preacher’s kid. I may not have always abided by biblical principles, but I knew what they were.

This verse is similar to the often misquoted one, For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Money isn’t the issue; love of it is.

The Bible says a lot about money—or possessions. And they’re both the same. I may not have cash on hand, but if I have possessions (even stocks and bonds), I have money. Liquidating my assets would give me spendable funds. Jesus had a lot to say about money, and the disciples and apostles who continued His teachings carried on the tradition.

One thing the Bible doesn’t teach is that money is the root of all kinds of evil. Leaving the word love out changes the meaning and distorts the truth. To be sure, those who have great amounts of money normally love it, but the principle remains: having money isn’t the root of all evil.

Loving my money—in whatever form it takes, will cause me issues, not having the money itself. Money is necessary to pay my bills so I can exist in a monetary economy. Loving my money, on the other hand, will lead me down roads to greed, selfishness, poor decisions, crime, unhealthy relationships, and possibly an eternity apart from God.

Instead of letting money be a root of evil in your life, use it to help others and advance God’s Kingdom work. Give graciously, sacrificially, and with honorable motives.

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More Than I Can Handle

And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

Series: The Things We Say

My arms were full, and I didn’t know whether or not I could make it to the car.

At 14 years of age, I began my first real job: bagging groceries at the local Piggly Wiggly grocery store. Though I had helped my grandfather on the ice cream truck for several years, this job installed me in the real work world. In addition to bagging the groceries, we carried them to the customer’s car. Most customers bought enough groceries that we needed a buggy to transport them, but occasionally a customer would have only a couple of bags. Trying to impress them and whoever else, I attempted to carry them. Today, that wouldn’t be an issue. Bags are plastic and have handles. Then it was. Bags were paper and had no handles. A shifting of the contents of the bags might mean groceries spilled and got damaged.

I’ve heard numerous believers say, “God won’t put any more on you than you can handle.” A statement normally spoken when someone is going through a difficult period or even a series of unfavorable circumstances. It’s another one of those statements we’ve formulated to comfort and encourage. And perhaps it does, but the problem is it can’t be supported biblically.

Though I don’t know where the saying originated, it may be based in part on Paul’s statement that God won’t allow us to be tempted to the point that we have to give in. But difficult circumstances and temptations are necessarily identical.

In reality, God will put more on us than we can stand. And He has a reason. I, like most, tend to think I can handle life myself. Just as I thought I could handle the grocery bags. Trying to maneuver through life without help from anyone else—and particularly God–is foolishness. When God allows more into my life than I can handle on my own, it forces me to turn to Him, which is what I should have done in the first place.

God wants to be our burden bearer. He will give wisdom and courage for every situation we face.

Let God give you strength to face each life situation.

Fear the Lord

You must fear the Lord your God and worship him and cling to him.
Deuteronomy 10:20 NLT

Series: The Things We Say

Being around something or someone I’m scared of is not my favorite thing to do.

I have real and perceived fears. My fear was real when bears entered a fellow camper’s camp and devoured their food—twice. My son and I were camped in a three-sided shelter a mere 50 feet away. The same bears could have easily walked into our shelter and harmed us. As a child, my fear of the dark could have been real or imagined. Though Dad was fond of saying there was nothing in the dark that wasn’t there in the light, I never believed him. Some dangers are present at night that aren’t during the day. But some of my fears associated with darkness were also imagined.

Early in life, Dad taught me to fear the Lord. At the same time, he wanted me to love Him. I don’t normally love or choose to be around those I fear. If I fear them, I perceive some sort of danger hangs around them. Seemed like an ironic situation to love and fear God, and I was unsure of how to do both.

The command combines fear, worship, and association. If we usually avoid what we fear—but God wants us to worship and associate with Him, there must be another definition of fear…and there is. Fear can involve being afraid of something or someone. Defined in such a manner, I would avoid that person or thing. Fear can also mean to reverence. And this is the definition God has in mind when He tells us to fear Him.

When I reverence God, I will stand in awe of Him. In one sense, I should fear Him. He has life and death power over my existence. With the utterance of one command, my heart would stop and my breath cease. He is sovereign over people and the universe.

Though fear can involve fright, God wants me to love and revere Him. So great was His desire for fellowship with people that He allowed His Son to die for our sins on Calvary. I stand in awe of Him, but I also consider Him my Savior and friend. He has accepted me into His family and invited me to come into His presence as often as I like.

Let your fear of God lead you to Him…not away.

I Know How You Feel

Series: The Things We Say

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.
John 11:21 NLT

Tragedy had struck. What could I say?

As a minister, I’ve watched people endure their share of tragedies. A husband whose wife decided to drive drunk. Her actions led to the death of their small child. A father whose daughter was innocently riding her bike through their subdivision and was hit and killed. Good friends whose daughter tried to ride a bicycle that was too large and accidentally rolled into the path of an oncoming truck. A couple whose child was born prematurely and languished in the neonatal intensive care unit for months and then grew up mentally challenged.

I’ve probably been guilty of saying it, but even if I haven’t, I’ve heard many others say those infamous words: “I know how you feel,” or “I know what you’re going through.” Innocent words spoken with good intentions, but words that mean little if anything to the one who is grieving—and perhaps questioning God at the same time.

Mary and Martha were probably feeling a little confusion themselves. Their brother, Lazarus, was sick. So they sent for Jesus, thinking He would heal him. Instead of coming immediately, Jesus waited until Lazarus had died. Martha was confused.

Even if I’ve experienced something similar to what a person is going through, saying “I know how you feel” isn’t the best response to their grief. I don’t know how they feel. I know how I felt, but I can’t get inside of their body and experience their emotions. The statement usually falls on deaf ears. They may also perceive the words as an empty platitude that means nothing.

When a person is grieving, spending time with them and saying little is a good practice. If I feel the need to speak, saying, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” or “How can I help” are helpful statements. Better yet is thinking of some way to help without asking the person. In their state of mind, they usually can’t think of what they need anyway. If I have experienced something similar to their tragedy, I can always tell my story and share how God brought me through.

Depend on God to give you the right thing to say when you’re helping a grieving person.