It was the love of money that caused Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus. Seeing that the Jewish leaders had blood in their eyes, Judas went to the chief priests and asked, “What will you give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” The agreement was that he would be given thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:14-16).
After Judas had served as guide to them that took Jesus (Acts 1:16), and following the realization that Jesus was condemned to die, the glitter of the money vanished. Knowing that he had betrayed innocent blood, He returned the money to the chief priests and elders in the bitterness of remorse and regret. They were totally without sympathy. The wicked Judas, an apostate apostle, hanged himself (Matt. 27: 1-5).
It was the love of money that prompted Gehazi, servant of Elisha, to run after Naaman with an evil scheme. After being healed of leprosy, Naaman wanted to give a present to the prophet Elisha. The prophet would accept nothing and urged Naaman to “Go in peace.” Seeing an opportunity to get gain through deceit, Gehazi followed when Naaman started home. Naaman saw him running behind his chariot, so he stopped. Gehazi said the situation had suddenly changed just as Naaman was leaving his master’s house. Two young men of the sons of the prophets had come in from Mt. Ephraim. They needed a talent of silver and two changes of garments. Gehazi declared that Elisha had sent him to overtake Naaman and let him know that a present for these young men would be accepted. Excitedly, Naaman gave Gehazi twice the amount of silver requested and the two changes of garments. Gehazi hid the silver and the garments.
Upon his return, Gehazi was questioned by his wise master about where he had been. Gehazi denied that he had gone anywhere. Elisha informed his lying servant that he was aware of his crooked scheme. This was no time to be taking money or other gifts from Naaman. “The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto you, and unto your seed for ever.” Gehazi went out from his master’s presence a leper (2 Kin 5:15-27).
It is the love of money that motivates some preachers to teach falsely. Paul remarked in writing to Titus, “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Tit. 1:10-11).
Some will teach most anything if the price is right. The threat of being fired if he dares to speak on certain subjects has silenced the preacher who loved money more than truth.
It is the love of money that Paul instructed a young preacher named Timothy to avoid. “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:3-10). Although the love of money can inflict anyone, preachers especially must avoid the love of money, being examples of the Lord’s church and carriers of His Word. Preachers must practice what they preach lest the name of God be blasphemed (Rom 2:21-24).
It is the love of money that makes some people miss many of the services of the church. They take the job that offers the highest pay even if they know in advance that they will be required to work when they ought to be in the assemblies of the saints. In some cases people miss services by working on Sunday when it is not a necessity for them to do so. They choose work over worship because they prefer financial gain over spiritual communion and praise.
Someday we are going to learn that we can be rich and increased with temporal goods, yet in God’s sight appear “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). The problem is, it may be too late when we finally learn that lesson!
It is the love of money that causes a lot of parental neglect. Mothers and fathers have no time to spend with their children. Both parents are working to bring home more money. It is assumed that if there is enough money, all the family problems will be solved. In the meantime, where is love? Where is the mother when her daughter has a problem to discuss? Where is father when his son needs special guidance and fatherly advice?
Many young people have become runaways. Others have become lawless. In a lot of cases, the lack of money did not influence them to do wrong. To the contrary, it may have been too much in material things and not enough in true values that drove them.
It is the love of money that is behind much of what now works to destroy America. The pushers make dope addicts out of children because they want money. The liquor industry makes alcoholics by the thousands to build fatter profits. Pornography, prostitution, gambling, and organized crime have become big business in America because of the money involved. Corruption in government usually connects with payoffs. We even have a president today who is a billionaire, who got wealthy running gambling casinos. Billions of dollars are spent each year attempting to get rich without working honestly for it. Remember the words of Solomon, the most wealthiest man who ever lived, “Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease!” (Prov 23:4).
There have been many warnings about gaining great wealth. Jesus said, “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Lk 18:25 ff; Matt 19:14; Mk 10:25). He said this of the young rich ruler who He commanded to sell all that he had, and give it to the poor, and come follow Him. Yet, the young man could not do so, for he was very wealthy, and loved the pleasures of this world more than treasures of God (Matt 19:16-26). Let us not forget Jesus speaking of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. It was the rich man who fared sumptuously every day who woke up in hell. Jesus also said, “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” (Lk 6:24). It was the apostle James who warned of the fate of the rich man. “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you” (Jam 5:1-6).
The Bible is right when it declares that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim. 6:10). Let not your labor on this planet be to the gaining of great wealth, but rather let your labor be to gaining great understanding of the Word of truth. And remember, we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we will carry nothing out. Having food and clothing, let us be content. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given unto you (Matt 6:33).