Free From the Love of Money
One of the ways to gain greater insights from Bible study is to pay particular attention to the times it compares and contrasts ideas. This might seem so obvious that it doesn’t need saying, but I cannot count the times I have been struck by what ideas the Bible puts together. Sometimes two ideas that are put together with a conjunction (like “and” or “but” or “for” for example) may seem to be completely unrelated. It is in exploring how the Bible links two ideas together, that we can come to deeper insights on many topics.
For example, here is one that I recently stumbled upon: Hebrews 13:5-6.
Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”
These verses happen near the end of the letter to the Hebrews, where the author begins listing various things that his readers ought to do in their lives. This statement starts off simple enough: “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money.” I am certain that we’ve all seen similar statements throughout the Bible: To be free from greed in our lives, to not trust in riches or wealth, to not love money, etc. This statement is perfectly in line with all of those.
After reading that first statement, you might be inclined to ask, “How do I keep my character from the love of money?” The first comparison of ideas begins to answer that: “being content with what you have.” A sign that your character is free from the love of money is to practice contentment with what you have. This comparison of ideas says something about the love of money. If we love money, we will end up not being content with what we have—we will desire beyond what we have, we will want more and more.
But that comparison makes a lot of sense to me already. It is the next comparison of ideas that really intrigued me: “for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” What does the assurance that God is with me have to do with the love of money? This is what I meant earlier about two ideas that don’t seem to be connected on the surface. But let’s consider this idea with the idea of love of money.
The Hebrews author directly contrasts love of money with trust and assurance in God. How does love of money depict that one does not trust in God? Here is one way it can: When we love money and aren’t content with what we have, what we are doing is depending upon money for our safety and security in life. Money is a cushion, a comfort, and security against the harshness of the world. We’ve all experienced how money can make a bad situation go away, or how the lack of money can make a situation in life more painful. So we begin to love money because money can get us out of a lot of trouble, and make life easier.
If we trust in money as our assurance in difficult times, we are by default not trusting in God. The Hebrews author is basically saying: Instead of trusting in money to save and protect you, trust in God to save and protect you. He then quotes from Deuteronomy and Psalms, promises from God. God will never leave us nor forsake us. Money, unlike God, is fleeting and is not always there, even when we expect it to be. Also, God is our helper—the Creator of the universe. What are we so afraid of in this life that we think something as small and insignificant as money will truly help us when we have the one true God to help us?
So in this small passage, I learned something about the love of money, and how it directly impacts my relationship with God. This is why Jesus said we cannot serve two masters, God and Mammon (Matthew 6:24). To love money is to depend on money, and to depend on money is to not depend on God. In the same way, to be content with what you have right now, is to be content with what God has given you, and to trust that if needs arise in your life, you have the Lord of lords and King of kings to provide it for you, for he is able and he is a helper. We need not be afraid.