Love of Money Is the Root of All Evil

"Love of money is the root of all evil."  I did not come up with that: God did.  Christians had better believe that.  God also said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven.  He told Satan bluntly that "man does not live by bread alone" and noted that God provides us with what we need.  Pretty strong stuff, but then God is the ultimate judge of all moral values.

Today, more than ever, it seems as if our obsession with money, with the stock market, with trade negotiations, with tax reform, and all the other objects of political discussion are utterly immersed in precisely the sort of naked materialism that God warned us about.  Who knows how far we may go in our love of money before we cross over into truly dangerous spiritual territory? 

Having money is not bad.  Working hard to earn money is not bad, and sound moral behavior tends to produce wealth naturally.  Indeed, love of money is surely as great a vice of the socialist who views everything as materialistic and economic as it is for those of us who feel the nagging pull of conscience when money moves more and more to the center of our existence.

Is it unfair to note that our actual wealth, considering the advances in technology and the expanding social welfare network, means that most of us have never had to endure genuine economic hardship like our parents, grandparents and great grandparents?  Most of our poorer citizens have a living standard roughly comparable to a medieval baron or a Roman patrician.

This general affluence, however, brings neither an increase in human decency nor real happiness.  Instead, the more gadgetry we have, the more choices we have in the marketplace, the more economic security we have – if we have defined those as the center of our lives – the more desperately wretched we become inside.

Moreover, no one who makes money the center of his life is ever satisfied with what he has.  The lust for wealth is a narcotic just as insidious as heroin or pornography.  It consumes us.  We barter away everything that ought to matter in our lives and silently mock those these things that truly matter, and we encourage the rest of us to mock those things as well. 

This leads to many of us into becoming rhetoricians and sophists trying to make the case that those of us who do not worship wealth and deify dollars are simpletons or out of step with society.  Of course, it is infinitely better to be out of step with society and in harmony with Heaven than to make Heaven a secondary objective in a life jammed with "stuff."

If the per capita GDP of America was doubled or tripled tomorrow, in a few years, most Americans who place money at the center of their being would be just as unhappy and disgruntled as they are today.  When our biggest health problem is obesity from overeating and the biggest mental health problem is addiction to drugs, alcohol, and myriad electronic devices to create artificial recreation, then more money will not make us happier or better.

How does all of this relate to politics and government today?  Well, if people were content with what they have, then a vast amount of the venom and viciousness of political debate would simply vanish.  This applies at least as much to the socialism of the poor as to those who seek to become rich. 

If people were content with what they have, then the great virtues all of us have the power to claim – kindliness, honor, gratitude, reverence, humility, gentleness, charity, peacefulness, wisdom, mercy, and love – would fill our lives more and make us a community and a nation that value what ought to be valued. 

We would be happier.  We would be better.  We would draw closer to God.  Love of money is the root of all evil, just as love of God and what He wants from us is the source of all goodness and joy.  There is no way to finesse this fact or to escape from this transcendent reality.  We ought to accept this truth personally and to behave and speak in such a way that our fellow man is better able to accept this truth as well.  Everything, really, depends upon this.

"Love of money is the root of all evil."  I did not come up with that: God did.  Christians had better believe that.  God also said it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven.  He told Satan bluntly that "man does not live by bread alone" and noted that God provides us with what we need.  Pretty strong stuff, but then God is the ultimate judge of all moral values.

Today, more than ever, it seems as if our obsession with money, with the stock market, with trade negotiations, with tax reform, and all the other objects of political discussion are utterly immersed in precisely the sort of naked materialism that God warned us about.  Who knows how far we may go in our love of money before we cross over into truly dangerous spiritual territory? 

Having money is not bad.  Working hard to earn money is not bad, and sound moral behavior tends to produce wealth naturally.  Indeed, love of money is surely as great a vice of the socialist who views everything as materialistic and economic as it is for those of us who feel the nagging pull of conscience when money moves more and more to the center of our existence.

Is it unfair to note that our actual wealth, considering the advances in technology and the expanding social welfare network, means that most of us have never had to endure genuine economic hardship like our parents, grandparents and great grandparents?  Most of our poorer citizens have a living standard roughly comparable to a medieval baron or a Roman patrician.

This general affluence, however, brings neither an increase in human decency nor real happiness.  Instead, the more gadgetry we have, the more choices we have in the marketplace, the more economic security we have – if we have defined those as the center of our lives – the more desperately wretched we become inside.

Moreover, no one who makes money the center of his life is ever satisfied with what he has.  The lust for wealth is a narcotic just as insidious as heroin or pornography.  It consumes us.  We barter away everything that ought to matter in our lives and silently mock those these things that truly matter, and we encourage the rest of us to mock those things as well. 

This leads to many of us into becoming rhetoricians and sophists trying to make the case that those of us who do not worship wealth and deify dollars are simpletons or out of step with society.  Of course, it is infinitely better to be out of step with society and in harmony with Heaven than to make Heaven a secondary objective in a life jammed with "stuff."

If the per capita GDP of America was doubled or tripled tomorrow, in a few years, most Americans who place money at the center of their being would be just as unhappy and disgruntled as they are today.  When our biggest health problem is obesity from overeating and the biggest mental health problem is addiction to drugs, alcohol, and myriad electronic devices to create artificial recreation, then more money will not make us happier or better.

How does all of this relate to politics and government today?  Well, if people were content with what they have, then a vast amount of the venom and viciousness of political debate would simply vanish.  This applies at least as much to the socialism of the poor as to those who seek to become rich. 

If people were content with what they have, then the great virtues all of us have the power to claim – kindliness, honor, gratitude, reverence, humility, gentleness, charity, peacefulness, wisdom, mercy, and love – would fill our lives more and make us a community and a nation that value what ought to be valued. 

We would be happier.  We would be better.  We would draw closer to God.  Love of money is the root of all evil, just as love of God and what He wants from us is the source of all goodness and joy.  There is no way to finesse this fact or to escape from this transcendent reality.  We ought to accept this truth personally and to behave and speak in such a way that our fellow man is better able to accept this truth as well.  Everything, really, depends upon this.