Is it really not about the money?
A few weeks back I started a sermon series called, "That's not in the Bible," focusing on expressions falsely attributed to the Scriptures, but in reality are no more than opinions.
Our most recent "opinion" was "money is the root of all evil."
Now honestly that does sound quite religious. So it must be there, or at least should be there, right?
The more I study the Bible, the more I notice how the gospel uniquely challenges our simplistic moral assumptions.
The actual verse about money and evil finds its home in I Timothy 6:10, warning us: "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
The "love of money," aka greed or covetousness, refers to an inordinate desire of gaining wealth, and is actually directed toward those currently not wealthy.
You may have noticed what "craving" did to Gollum in Lord of the Rings as a perfectly good-looking hobbit morphed into a hideous creature akin to an angry snowbird trapped in a Florida summer.
Because the Bible warns against the love of money, and not simply money, religiosity (giving more), or better budgeting (saving more), will at best only scratch the surface and not the itch.
Both present practical options but in and of themselves will not leave you valuing Jesus more.
We've all heard the athlete or lawsuit alleging: "It's not about the money."
When someone self-righteously defers to this statement, they're actually not being completely dishonest, so much as superficial.
Money has simply become the vehicle to get what he/she really craves. So in some ways, it is not about the money.
If the warning regards "love of money" and not just money itself, then we need to examine our hearts instead of identifying our assets. Or put it this way, you can be a saver, a spendthrift, a miser, or a frivolous spender who lives off credit and equally fall in love with money. One wantonly spends money for materials, while another saves money because it provides her security.
In the first "Wall Street" movie, Gordon Gecko claims "greed is good."
In the sequel, after he's aged a bit and seen jail time, someone asks him: "Don't you have enough money?"
He replies: "It's not about money, it's about power."
Another could honestly say it's more about peer or parent approval, or perhaps status in a club or community. We love money for a number of reasons.
If coveting arises from a faulty belief that money can provide security, power, approval, then contentment flows out of a deeper belief God can truly provide the aforementioned in the gospel.
The writer of Hebrews recognizes the possibility of contentment is completely contingent upon the gospel promise: "Never will I leave you nor forsake you."
It's never completely about the money. But when you find in Jesus what you had previously been searching for through your finances, you'll eventually yourself a contented and cheerful giver.
Pastor Geoff Henderson, at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at@theapostleGH. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald written by local clergy members.