By Les Henson.
1 Timothy 6: 6-10 (NRSV)
6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that[a] we can take nothing out of it; 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
We are what we love, and if we love money, then it becomes a substitute god — an idol. Money, like all idols, dominates and dehumanises all who worship it and are entrapped by it. Thus, it becomes the root of all kinds of evil (verse 10) at both a personal and a societal level. In verse 6, we read that, “. . . those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” There is nothing wrong with desiring financial security for our families, but when we become obsessed with accumulating more and more stuff, then we know we are in trouble. If our sense of self-worth depends on the house we live in or the things we possess then something is seriously wrong.
When our lifestyle requires that others receive meagre wages that won’t feed their families when the rich get richer, and the poor become poorer. When millions of people are kept in debt so that we in the West can live well, then it is time to rethink our lifestyle and aspirations. Verses 6-8 offers sage advice in this respect, “. . . there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.” If only that were the case and we learned to be content (with less so that others can simply live) rather than continually seeking after more and more. Verse 10b issues a stern warning, “. . . in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” Or in the words of Jesus, “For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?” (Matthew 16:26).
Heavenly Father, help us to be content rather than constantly desiring more and more of this world’s goods. Amen.