That's the proper translation of that pantoum, all kinds of evil is really the proper understanding of it rather than just a translation of it. We are to understand that that really covers everything. It's the same as.. If you just love God consummately, all the other commandments are a moot point. And if you don't love money, if you're not attached to money with strong affection, then those other attitudes are going to take care of themselves. You're not going to cling to it. You're not going to cater to the people who have it. You're not going to find your pride and security in it. You're not going to seek it first.
And you're not going to hoard it. The overarching principle for the life of a believer related to his money is not to love it This is axiomatic, I think it kind of goes without saying that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. But think it through with me for a moment. The term "love of money" is one word in the Greek, aphilarguria, it means affection for silver. And the idea here is not money but the love of it. You understand that, don't you? There's nothing inherently wrong with money, money is very dangerous, it's like a gun, it can be used to kill an animal for food, it can be used to protect you against an invader, or it can be used to harm somebody or even take a life.
It's a dangerous thing and you go around, as it were, with money and you go around with a loaded gun by which you can accomplish good ends or by which you can accomplish disaster.
The issue is your affection. The issue isn't money, the issue is how you feel about money. And the sin here is the sin of greed. Another way to say that is the love of money. Now he says it is the root, and by that he means the source, of all kinds of evil which become the branches and whatever is hanging on them in this metaphorical tree. The root is the love of money and it produces all kinds of evil.
To give you the simple understanding of that, what he means to say is that if you love money there's usually nothing that can stop you in the pursuit of it and therefore it leads to all kinds of sins. There is no kind of evil, frankly, there is no kind of evil that could be imagined which could not be the result of loving money. For the love of money people have committed every conceivable sin People who love money in order to get money will take bribes.
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They will distort justice. They will manipulate. They will take advantage of the poor. They will lie. They will cheat. They will extort. They will deceive, steal, rob. They will abuse. They will commit every imaginable sin They will do bodily harm. They will kill for money. They will teach false doctrine for money.
Every imaginable category of sin can flow out of loving money because if you are consumed with the love of money then that's the driving force of your life, you will do whatever it takes to get that. If you are consumed with loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, then you will set aside anything that thwarts that and therefore you're on a path of righteousness. And you cannot love and you cannot serve both God and money. There's no sin excluded from the list of what people might do for the love of money. So, if you can just deal with the affection, you've really won the battle.
Now how do you know if you love money? And I had to do a little inventory in my own life so I just posed some questions to myself this week as I sat in my study. And the first thing that I thought was a test that I would put to myself is this: do you spend more time thinking about how to get money or how to do a good job? That's the first test. Do you spend more time thinking about how to make money than you do about how to do a good job?
In other words, are you more concerned on your job with how much you make or the quality of your service? Are you into excellence or into money? Is your job a means to finance your indulgence or is it a means by which you can show the excellence of your commitment and glorify God? It's a basic principle. So when you spend more time thinking about how to get money than you do how to do a good job, you love money. One of the things that I decided early in my ministry from the very beginning was that I would never put a price on my ministry. And by God's grace and I don't know He overruled my humanness in that regard but from the very start all through these years there has never been a time in my ministry when I have told anybody that I charge a certain amount to do anything.
I never ever wanted to be a position to look at ministry with a price tag. That is just too overwhelming a problem for my flesh to deal with. And so I would rather ask for nothing and be surprised. And if nothing comes, then nothing was expected. I remember one time I was speaking across the city and I drove about 80 miles three nights in a row to a special series of meetings I was giving before about a thousand college students and they were mostly unbelieving at Whittier College. And I was speaking about the veracity of the Bible and the authenticity of the Christian faith and then having an answer My first reaction was, "That's outrageous.
I mean, 80 miles and all that preparation of a dollar a night. Every time I'm wrong, it's me.
The Danger of Hating the Sin and Loving the Sinner
So the glory is His. Listen, our response to the daily task will tell us a lot about whether we love money. Do I seek to make money or to do a good job? Secondly, you know you love money when you never have enough In other words, you're never satisfied. You haven't learned in whatsoever state you are to be Thirdly, you love money when you want to flaunt it and what it provides.
In other words, you get some kind of silly joy out of wearing it, or driving it, or living in it, or showing it off. When you want to flaunt it and what it provides, you're loving money. Fourthly, you love money when you resent giving it. It kills you to give it away because you're in the mode of using all your money to make sure you get something for it.
And the idea of giving it away is very distasteful. A person who loves money holds it for his own gratification, her own gratification. Finally, and here's the ultimate test, you love money when you sin to obtain it Anytime you sin to get money, you betray a heart that loves money more than it loves God, righteousness, truth. So, those are fairly simple tests, ask yourself: do I spend more time thinking about how to get money than I do how to do a good job?
Do I never have enough? Am I prone to want to flaunt what I have and what it produces? And do I resent giving it? And will I sin to get it? Paul says in verse 10, if that's your attitude that will produce all manner of evil. Now what brought this subject up in verses 6 to 10? Well Paul had just in verse 5 been talking about false teachers who are motivated by gain.
He said they suppose that their kind of godliness which is a fake godliness is going to bring them material gain, that's their motive. And then he transitions and says, "Well, godliness with contentment," verse 6, "is great gain. And that's the transition and so he takes off in verse 6 to talk about it in a general sense and goes right on down to verse 10 to warn us all about the danger of loving money.
The false teachers and their inordinate love for money trigger the subject in a general sense from verses 6 to And he has just rejected the perverted idea that godliness is to be used as a means of material gain but he doesn't want you you to misunderstand the point that there is in true godliness a true gain.
And so he launches into a discussion of the subject which relates to everybody in the Ephesian church and particularly those abusing it and it relates to all of even today. Loving money results in all kinds of evil, that means money is dangerous if you love it. And may I suggest to you, you can have an awful lot of money and not love it and you can have none of it and love it? I know people who have a tremendous amount of money and don't love it. In fact, they don't spend their life trying to make money, they spend their life trying to do their best to glorify God. They don't flaunt what they have in money on what they have in possessions.
They're not consumed with the pursuit of money, they're consumed with the pursuit of God. And they will never sin or compromise to get it. But God in His sovereign choice has determined to give them much. And I have met people who have absolutely no money and are desperately in love with it. Spend all their time trying to figure out how to get more of it. That's the danger and it has nothing to do with what you have. Now let's go into the exposition of the principle from verse 10 by going back to verse 6 and, first of all, money is dangerous because of the nature of money love, because of the nature of money love.
And secondly, we'll look at the effect of it. It's dangerous twofold And secondly, not only its inherent essence but what it produces makes it potentially dangerous First of all, let's look at verse 6. The nature of money love, it is dangerous because it ignores the true gain He says indeed, and de can be translated indeed or well or but, if you were to use the word indeed he would be saying playing off his prior statement, "Indeed godliness with contentment is great gain. There is great gain with true godliness.
What is godliness? That's that very familiar word used in the pastorals, eusebeia, it means reverence, piety, godliness, all those good things that I like to think of as Godlikeness. Where there is true God likeness with contentment, there is great gain. Now if all you want is money, you'll never have that because you'll never be content. The genuine great gain comes from true godliness which is inseparably linked to contentment. The word autarkes means selfsufficiency, it was used by the cynics and the Stoics to speak of selfmastery, the person who was unflappable, the person who was not moved by circumstance, the person who lived immuned to external distraction, oblivious to outside troubles, the person who had that most noble of human virtues, the ability not to control his environment but to properly react to it.
That's that idea of that word. It basically means to be sufficient, to seek nothing more, to be content with what you have. And it is a noble human trait but Paul takes it further and takes that concept and that word and sanctifies it. It's God's sufficiency in us. Later on in chapter 9 of the same epistle in verse 8, God is able to make all grace about toward you that you always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work, and again emphasizes that our sufficiency is of God. That familiar section in Philippians chapter 4 where he says, "I know in whatsoever state I am, I have learned to be content, I know how to be abased that's put downI know how to abound, everywhere in all things I'm instructed to be full, to be hungry, to abound, to suffer need, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
So, Paul sanctifies this idea of contentment by saying it is a God contentment, it is a Christ contentment in the sense that the provision of God and the provision of Christ bring about the contentment. It's more than just selfmastery, it's more than just some human virtue. Our contentment is related to the sufficiency of God, it's related to the sufficiency of Christ, it's related to the confidence that says I want to be godly and take whatever God wants to give me.
I want to live within His sovereign providential will and seek to be like Him and let the other things find their own level. And so what Paul is saying to us here in this passage is that if you love money, you really ignore the true gain. If you love money, you're pursuing something you'll never find.
True godliness, on the other hand, brings about true gain. Because true godliness produces contentment. Now listen carefully. Riches is not related to how much you have, it's related to whether you're content with what you have. You understand that? The person who is rich is the person who doesn't need anything else.
That's the issue. The Greek philosopher Epicurus said "The secret of contentment is not to add to a man's possessions but to take away from his desires. He is most rich who desires least, right? You are rich when you are content. That's riches. You have enough. Paul says it's irrelevant to me, I know how to be abounding, that is to have an abundance, I know how to be abased, that is to have less than an abundance, I know how to be full, I know how to be empty, I know how to be rich and poor and I don't really care either way because I am content to be in the will of God.
And if I had too little, I might be in want and steal and profane the name of my God.
So, God, don't give me too much and don't give me too little, give me what You want me to have with a contented heart. That's the kind of godliness that makes a person rich because it produces satisfaction. True godliness and true gain is unrelated to how much you have, it is only related to how much you want. And if you are content with what God gives, you're rich I will never leave you or That's the issue That's to be content. But if you spend your whole life chasing money, you will forfeit the true gain because you will never get enough and you will never be satisfied and you'll never have contentment.
A truly godly person is motivated not by the love of money but by the love of God. He seeks the greatest riches and the greatest riches are spiritual contentment and complete trust in the everpresent, everable God. The only thing that makes people rich is contentment And contentment is a spiritual virtue born as the fruit of godliness.
John B. Rockefeller once said, "I have made many millions and they have all brought me no happiness. Cornelius Vanderbilt said, "The care of millions of dollars is too great a load, there is no pleasure in it. Rockefeller said, "The poorest man I know is the man who has nothing but money. The only thing that makes you rich is contentment and contentment is a spiritual virtue born out of godliness. So he is saying there is great gain through godliness but it is the great gain through godliness linked to contentment.
To pursue riches out of discontent is to ignore the true gain. So here are people because of the love of money pursuing, pursuing, pursuing something they can never ever reach. It is an illusion. My soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land where no water is. To see Thy power and Thy glory as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary because Thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee. It says, yes, "For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness. No wonder Isaiah in chapter 55 says, "Why are you pursuing bread that does not satisfy?
Why are you spending money for what isn't even bread? And your labor for that which does not satisfy. Hearken diligently unto Me and eat what is good and let your soul delight itself in fatness. It is bound up in the nature of money and the love of it that if you pursue it you'll never be satisfied because the love of money and contentment are mutually exclusive. It's like the old Roman proverb that said money is like sea water, the more you drink the thirstier you get.
So the danger of loving money as to its nature is that it tends to ignore the true gain and happiness that can only be found in true godliness. Secondly, it focuses on the temporal.
And this is a very very direct statement. Verse 7, "For we brought nothing into the world. You come into the world naked. Every baby is born stark naked, they don't even have a name tag. They just arrive. They bring nothing in, and they take nothing out. Nothing at all. And that's just another simple truism.
Now listen, folks, if you spend your life in the love of money, you are pursuing what is locked into time and space and has no eternal value. I mean, it's a whole wasted life. Not one thing did you bring in and not one thing will you take out. As a friend of mine says, "You have never seen a hearse pulling a UHaul. Material possessions are bound by time and space. Please, he says, don't be so foolish as to spend your life putting your fortune into what is going to stay here. It has no eschatological significance, no eternal value at all.
And this principle is repeated so often by our Lord in His teachings in the gospel. In Mark, is it chapter 8? Verse 36, do you know this passage? In other words, it wouldn't matter if you gained every single thing there was in this world if you weren't prepared for eternity it would all be a horrible, horrible deceptive loss. A man's life consists not in the abundance of things which he possesses. Then He goes on with the parable. He wasn't at all interested in giving it to God or anybody else, so he said, "I'll just pull down my barns, build bigger barns and I'll put all my crops there and then I'll never have to work again.
So you have much goods laid up for many years, take your ease, eat, drink and be merry, I'll party my way on through life.
The Danger With Falling In Love
I don't ever need to work again, I've got all this abundance. God said, You fool, this night your soul will be required of you, then whose shall those things be which you have provided? So is the person who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. You amass all your bank accounts and all your securities and all your possessions in this world and you are poor if you do not invest with God.
The point is that pursuing money as a supreme goal of life focuses on the temporal and leaves the spiritually and eternally significant things unconsidered. What folly, so ask yourself, what am I doing with my money? The nature of money loving makes it dangerous because it ignores the true gain and focuses on the temporal and doesn't consider the eternal. Thirdly, the nature of money love makes it dangerous because it obscures the simplicity of life.
It obscures the simplicity of life. Verse 8 he says having food and clothes and it's possible the word for clothes could also embrace the idea of shelter, the word can refer to that. So if we take it in the broadest sense, having nourishment, clothing, shelter, the basic necessities of life, let us be therewith satisfied.
Same word in the verb form used in verse 6. In other words, we need to be satisfied with the simplicity of life. Boy, life gets so complex. And the more money you have the more complex it gets, right? And the less you can enjoy it because you sit around worrying all the time about what you're going to do with all this money. Or you spend all your time racing around like a maniac from one place to another buying stuff you don't need, stacking it on shelves and hang it in closets, putting it in the garage. It's absolutely unbelievable how much we have that is useless. It doesn't do anything.
It doesn't take us anywhere. It doesn't provide anything. It's just something to have and it really is a barometer on the condition of the heart in so many cases. Paul is not condemning having possessions if God graciously chooses to give them. But what he does condemn is the desire for them rising out of discontent. I tell you God is very good. There have been in my life those people who have been kind and gracious to me to provide things beyond what I need to eke out a bare existence. And again the question is how I deal with this, how I use this for the purpose of God and the glory of God.
And the greater and deeper question is is this the thing that I spend my life pursuing. And the answer is no. I spend my life pursuing ministry and God keeps giving me other things. And if that's what He chooses to do, then I guess it's fair that He put me in a position to have to be able to demonstrate that the things I preach are being worked out in my own life, and that's a real test.
So it's not that Paul's condemning having possessions, he's condemning the desire that rises out of discontent. I don't know how you feel about it but there are many many times when I wish I had nothing, I would have no decisions to make. You know, there's a wonderful fact about poverty, it eliminates all your decisions. You don't have to make any decisions. You just eat and sleep and enjoy life at the basic level.
What we've done with all of our money is replace people with things And we have lost a tremendous dimension of the simplicity of life, the simple joys. And somewhere in the back of all of our minds there's this secret longing to go out in the woods, right, and just pack our little group and stay there.
And what we're saying is there is something wonderful about simplicity, about talking to people in your family When is the last time you just sat down and thanked God for a simple meal, you can hardly even come up to thanking God for your meal because you're so over indulged, right? That's a real loss, a real loss to lose that sense of thankfulness. So much is lost when we lose the simplicity of life. It's a wistful thing to think about but I think most of us would long to go back to a simple kind of life and take away a lot of the junk that's cluttered up our world.
The substance of Christian experience should be relationships. My time in relationship to God, my time in relationship to people I love and family and friends, but that gets all clouded because the world goes so fast and pulls at me so strongly and demands that I purchase all the goodies that it drags by and somehow life gets so confused. Instead of being able to enjoy life, I'm trying to figure out how I can make my checks stretch to pay the bills for the stuff I can't stand. But I bought it and so my whole demeanor and attitude is depressed because I'm in debt.
You can see the compounding of all these, the loss of simple joys. Your Father knows you have need. The simplicity of life is to accept what God gives, not be covetous. Seek Him and His glory and not consume oneself with complexities that are not necessary, that just steal joy away. By the way, who said, "riches are desirable," anyway?
With riches come infinite complexities of life. It's so simple for people who have just enough. Now let me ask you a practical question at this point, see if we can't make it practical in terms of application. How can you be content with the simplicity of life and stop desiring more things? How do you put an end to this? Each deck comes with a free digital download. The Dangerous Liaisons Intro info 2.
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