Growing up during the Great Depression, my parents knew deep hardship as children. As a result, they were hard-working and grateful money stewards. But they were never greedy. They gave time, talent, and treasury to their church, charity groups, and the needy. Indeed, they handled their money wisely and gave cheerfully.
As believers in Jesus, my parents took to heart the apostle Paul’s warning: “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9).
Paul gave this advice to Timothy, the young pastor of the city of Ephesus, a wealthy city where riches tempted all.
“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” Paul warned. “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10).
What, then, is the antidote to greed? Being “rich toward God,” said Jesus (see Luke 12:13–21). By pursuing, appreciating, and loving our heavenly Father above all, He remains our chief delight. As the psalmist wrote, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).
Rejoicing in Him daily relieves us of coveting, leaving us contented. May Jesus redeem our heart’s desires, making us rich toward God!
Paul’s words to Timothy about money reflect his words in Acts 20:35 where he quotes Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Yet nowhere in the New Testament do we hear Jesus saying those exact words. So where did Paul get them? One possibility is that he was quoting an oral tradition passed down from eyewitnesses. Another is that Paul was just saying in his own words what he learned from the life and words of Jesus.
Paul had been educated in a system that tended to produce leaders who loved money at the expense of the poor (Luke 16:14; 20:46–47). It took a dramatic conversion of his soul to be able to hear and believe what Jesus said by both word and example—that the net worth of our lives isn’t determined by how much we possess (12:15).