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The snare of riches
- Jacob Ninan
Money itself is not sinful; it is the love of money that causes all kinds of evil (1Ti.6:10). But the question that comes up is, "What is the love of money? Is it wrong to want more money?" It is an unrealistic position some people take to say that any desire to get more money is sinful. We need money to live in this world, and people who are struggling to make both ends meet desire to get more money. Even those who are not 'struggling' feel that if they had some more money they could turn their focus to other more important things. This prompts them to work harder, plan better forms of savings and investments, etc. If God wants us to learn from the ants a lesson on wealth management (Pr.6:6-8), it shows us what love of money is not.
This warning against the love of money comes in the context of godliness and its blessings (1Ti.6:6-11). Godliness has blessings for this life and the world to come (1Ti.4:8). That is to be one of our prime concerns, to partake of godly nature (Ti.2:11-13). The problem is that we tend to forget this, and get occupied with getting more of this world--money, fame, power, influence, etc. When our focus shifts from God to this world--slowly and over a period of time--and we begin to aim for greater heights here, we get caught in a trap.
Money rules this world. And behind the world of money there is the prince of this world, Satan, who manipulates everything in his way so that people would turn away from God. He offers attractive looking rewards that money can bring, hiding the fact that it is a bait for his trap. "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction" (1Ti.6:9).
Think of the some parts of the snare. It takes greater risks to make more money, and falling markets, crashing financial giants, changing governments and revised rules can totally derail our investments. Think of the tensions, worries, fears and sleepless nights we have to go through. Imagine suddenly finding ourselves in a place where only bribes, false statements or black money can get us out. Personal relationships can break down through money transactions. Our struggle for a 'better life' seems to be unending because the expensive things we buy become outdated soon--our houses, cars, phones, dresses, all become 'old,' and we are under pressure to get newer things. We find it difficult to stand the pressure when 'everybody else' seems to have better stuff!
The only way to keep out of this snare is to have our priorities set on 'godliness' and keep everything in our life under its subjection. The solution is not asceticism. That is just another unrealistic extreme. Don't we need to learn the attitude of being content (1Ti.6:8)? In practical terms this would mean drawing the lines in our lives according to what God has given and enabled us, where we decide that enough is enough, and desist the temptation to keep up with the Joneses?