Could The Money Lover Please Stand Up

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“It is not money that is the root of all evil.  It is the love of money.”

Ever heard that phrase?  Ever said it?

EVERY TIME I have taught a class on Christians and money, someone has said that or a similar phrase.  They usually say it as early into the class as possible so that everyone can breathe a collective sigh of relief.  This effectively lets everyone off the hook so they can listen without actually wondering if they might be a lover of money.  The phrase is, in fact, true and accurate. 

The Love of Money is the Root of All Kinds of Evil

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 6:10 NIV)

On the other hand, Jesus says:

“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23 NIV)

How can Jesus say it is hard, yet we’ve all mastered it so easily?

Having money is not sinful.  Loving money is.  So all we do is we tell ourselves that we have it, but that we don’t love it.  And then we go on our merry little way.  But Jesus says that this is hard, oh so hard.

Jesus says it is a fine and difficult line to walk, (being rich and entering the kingdom of God) and yet rich Christians all think they have mastered it – having, yet not loving, money.  It is possible, with the strength of God, but difficult.

One day.  Just one day.  I want to hear someone stand up and say, “You know, Craig, I think I might actually love my money.  I love having a nice home, and I love having a nice car, and I love the freedom that comes with money.  Do you have any advice for me?”

That would be a refreshing break.

So, I’m here to say it. I fight daily against a love of money.  Perhaps it is not the money I love, I love the comforts money buys.  I love the conveniences money buys.  I love emotional peace that money buys.  I love the freedom money buys.  I love the safety money buys.  And I’m compelled by the love of Christ to fight that battle on a daily basis.  For me, having money and not loving it is hard.  I’m just thankful for these words:

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NIV)

Wouldn’t we all be better off being ‘recovering money lovers’ instead of living in denial?  Couldn’t more be done for God and his kingdom if we stopped saying we have all easily mastered what Jesus said would be hard?  Wouldn’t we be better off if we admitted we need the presence and strength of God to help us stand against the temptation of money? 

But, that could just be me standing foolishly sinful in your presence.

The Relationship Between the Heart and Action

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (Matthew 12:34 NIV)

Jesus cares most about the heart and the attitude.  But, Jesus does not care exclusively about the heart – for changes in the heart result in changes of action.  The heart is the seed that grows into action.

If you want an action to change, there are two approaches:

  1. Focus on changing the action – this approach is a fundamentally flawed as changes in action without a change in heart are of little value to God.  Typically, this leads to legalism.
  2. Focus on changing the heart, and the proper action will follow.

Many times people in the Bible got it wrong by only trying to change the action.  God said to go back and work on the heart.  I believe the assumption is that when the heart is right, the right actions will follow.

Is Jesus’ gospel message – keep the money and change the heart?

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21 NIV)

Which of the following describes the intention of this passage?

  • If, when you store up for yourself, you must also be rich towards God.
  • Don’t store up things for yourself, but instead be rich towards God.

Perhaps, if we keep reading it will give us some perspective:

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. (Luke 12:22-23 NIV)

As this story continues, it seems as though God is promoting being rich towards him instead of storing up things for yourself.  For, why would anyone worry if they were rich towards God and had stored things up for themselves?  Why ask “What will I wear?” if there is $10,000 in the bank?

Change the heart – change the action.

If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:16-17 NIV)

Now I leave you with the difficult job.  Apply this to your life and your financial practice. 

Alright, I officially open the door once again to your perceptive, wise, and helpful replies.  What are your thoughts?


  1. Ray says

    I admit I love money, and the comforts it can buy. I struggle with this everyday, most days I fail. I keep trying to change my perspective. How do you work to make money and not come to love money and what it will buy? It is like golden handcuffs. I know in my heart it is just a tool to do what God wants me to do, but working where I do, in the industry I do, money is the goal. I could change jobs, but my bills still need to get paid..Any ideas?

    • says

      I think the honesty you show is the first and best part of the process. Continue being honest. Talk with trusted friends. When we desire to do what is right God will provide the resources necessary.
      Remember, we are all fighting the same battle.

  2. says

    Wow, Craig. Excellent article! I think we’ve become so accustomed to loving money that we don’t even know what it looks like. I can identify with your struggles against the love of money. Being able to give up our attachment to money and desire for it is difficult and requires sacrifice, but it is possible through God.

    I was just thinking about all the things I’ve written on contentment and giving, and I’m wondering if I’m missing the heart issues and trying to just change actions. Thanks for a thought-provoking and powerful article!
    .-= Paul Williams´s last blog ..Fresh-baked Yeast Bread with Only 10 Minutes of Work =-.

    • says

      Thanks for your kind words. You’re right that we are accustomed to loving money. God will be the one to give us the knowledge and strength necessary. What is impossible with man is always possible with God.

  3. Gholmes says

    LOL I am one of those that breathe a big sigh. Great food for thought. Yes count me as lover of money, something that I do battle is envy. Am I walking away from my faith, no. Yet if I was asked to give up my comforts I would struggle mightly.

    • says

      @Gholmes. At the end of the day our conclusions might just be right, but I think all of us would do well to stay with the tension for just a little be longer instead of looking for the emergency exit.
      I think when we admit the struggle we are more likely to overcome a love of money.

  4. says

    This article is very interesting! I have heard the phrase you were mentioning above at countless financial long as you don’t LOVE the money, or put the money above God, you are good. However, I must say that your approach to this makes more sense when you look at all the verses of the Bible regarding money collectively. Action without a change of heart is not only wrong, but is apparent to everyone around you. I am in seminary and have encoutered many pharisees and legalists of the like…they want to act like they don’t love money, yet they grip it so tightly. I think there is an opposite extreme here..these people think they don’t love money, but they hold on so tightly to it, that I dare say they love it more than God b.c I have never seen anyone hold on to their Bible like that…not even in seminary..sadly.

    When the pain of thinking about losing your relationship with GOd is greater than the pain you feel from thinking about losing your car or home, then you may have a firm grip on it. IN any case, we must all take it day by day as you said. I struggle with this love every day which is why I need God in my life every day. Thanks so much for this article. Great perspective!

  5. zaheer says

    Dear Readers

    The truth is the money is GOD and if you have good on you can do every thing. go ahead ask you loved one for money and say you cant pay it, see what grief they give you, why because money is good, you should love money money buys you every thing with out money you are no thing to nothing, MONEY = GOD +HUMAN= POWER, If you still dont understand then you are a commen man, ask some who is million air, then talk mate, which i am billionair. and i love money and i buy every thing, even the life of humans, reson BECOME A FREEMSON.

  6. Chris says

    Just thought I’d add what the Lord has revealed to me concerning the love of money, with hopes it may help other people.

    Matthew 6:24 says, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Now, I’ve heard this preached a lot, but I don’t often hear it pointed out that Jesus equated what you serve with what you love. But it is very clear that this is true. I love God so I choose to serve Him. I love my wife so I do my best to serve her needs. The truth is, you love money when you serve money more than you serve God. You love God when you serve God rather than money.

    I think it would be safe to say that every person understands that your bank accounts, your check book, and your debts can “speak to you.” They try to tell you what you can and can’t do. If you obey what money tells you, you are serving money. If you are serving money, then you are loving money. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use wisdom, but how many times has your checkbook told you that you can’t afford to give to the church, when in your heart you feel you should. (This is not referring to should you or shouldn’t you tithes, I’m talking about in your heart you feel you should.) If you chose to listen to your money, then you are serving your money more than you are serving God, and you have shown you love money, more than you love your God.

    • says

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the topic. I agree that out bank account and checkbook is a great place to check the condition of our heart.

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