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- Jacob Ninan
Nobody is fool enough to say we don't need money. It's something we can't live without, something that makes our life miserable if we have too little of it and comfortable when we have (more than) enough of it. Jesus asked one young man to sell off everything he had, give to the poor and follow Him (Mt.19:21). This was because Jesus saw that this man's love of money was the one thing that blocked his way to God. But Jesus didn't tell everyone to do this, because we all need money to take care of our needs and also to help others around us in need. Money empowers us in this world. We think if we have enough of it we can do what we want. Many young people have set up as their ambition, "Whatever I do, I must make a lot of money."
But the way to money is laid with many traps or snares. Paul says, "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). There are temptations to tell lies, hide certain facts, cheat people, workplaces or governments, make false statements, evade tax, 'launder money', gamble, take unreasonable risks, carry out harmful activities, and even to kill to get more money.
A more subtle snare is the one which gives us a sense of independence and omnipotence. When we have money we feel we can manage or handle everything or everyone. Once children begin to earn, they don't need their parents any more, and once wives earn enough on their own they become independent of their husbands. Siblings fight for property, and even churches get divided on money issues. Slowly, unconsciously, money becomes more important than everything else, including what God wants, people and relationships. Isn't God right in saying that the love of money is the root of all kinds of sin (1Ti.6:10)?
Even though we know that money gives us only a false sense of security, and God is our ultimate security, we still look for the security of money. We know 'rich' and 'poor' are relative terms--we consider those who have more than us as rich, and those who have less than us consider us rich. But we don't consider ourselves rich, and we still seek for becoming more rich!
Many Christians justify themselves in their pursuit of money saying that it is not money that is evil, but the love of money (1Ti.6:10). That is true in itself, but the problem is that it is not easy to distinguish between love of money and looking for more money for our needs, because we conveniently define love of money as 'a craze after money' and say that we are free from it. But the Bible warns us to flee from the love of money, because it is so near to us, and tells us that it is only possible if we redirect our seeking towards righteousness, godliness, love, faith, perseverance and gentleness (v.11). This cannot be a once for all decision, but a constant walk with carefulness and a fear of slipping up. Developing a heart for giving can be a big help to remain alert.