Many say, “Money is the root of all evil.” On the other hand, Mark Twain said, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.” While each statement has its arguments, the apostle Paul is more accurate, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). The love of money leads to selfishness, pride and defiance.
Money matters because it influences almost every aspect of our lives; therefore, it is imperative that we distinguish when money is a curse or a blessing.
Money is a curse when it…
- Is used just to buy a lot of cool stuff. The philosophy that “The one who dies with the most toys, wins,” naturally separates us from others because, in this selfish state, we obsess about things rather than enjoying people. The American Bar Association has determined that arguments over money are the most common cause of divorce in the United States. Cool stuff will never be as fulfilling as loving relationships.
- Is used to impress others. A desire for conspicuous consumption sells a lot of houses and fancy cars. The downside is that impressing others is a phantom that cannot be captured, no matter how much money is wasted. Parents must be cautious about how important money is to them, how they react when the money is in short supply and how they spend the money they have. As my wife wrote, “Live where you are comfortable. We could have moved to a country club neighborhood one time. I said, ‘Not until we can keep up with the Jones’. I don’t want our kids to feel like they are playing catch up.”
- Gives you power to boss around other people. It is the nature and disposition of almost all people that when they get a little authority; they want to control others around them. It is a test of one’s integrity to have the wealth or position to impose your will and opinions on others but choose to be collaborative. Using money to stroke an ego reinforces arrogance and is damaging to any relationship. It also gives the person a false sense of importance.
- Makes you think you can do whatever you want. How to properly handle money is not intuitive. Watching the personal failures of suddenly-rich pop stars and athletes is proof. No one can have everything and no one is above the law. Some rich people get more consideration than they deserve, but it eventually catches up with them, often with tragic consequences.
- Allows you to live a life a drugs, sex and rock and roll. A lifestyle of unconstrained excess is almost impossible to maintain and makes it absolutely impossible to achieve fulfillment as a person. No one knows what the future holds but history shows that hedonism always ends badly – the money runs out, illness and accidents occur or the aging process catches up. When any of these happens, the person who had lived “to party” is just another empty shell of someone who could have achieved success and happiness.
Money is a blessing when it…
- Provides a roof over your head. In 1942, Abraham Maslow established what he called the Hierarchy of Needs. Based on his studies of accomplished people, he established that physical safety is needed before people can focus on higher achievements. Money frees up time and concentration so individuals can develop to the full extent of their potential.
- Feeds and clothes your family. Everyone wants to have the basic necessities and some of the luxuries of life. Money can solve a multitude of annoying problems that can impede other worthy pursuits. It makes day-to-day living more enjoyable for everyone.
- Increases access to education. There is an abundance of evidence that education increases earning power and promotes an appreciation for the diversity of people and philosophies. These are all blessings to those who take advantage of opportunities for learning. The potential downside is succumbing to intellectualism, an arrogance that can corrode clear thinking.
- Expands your sphere of influence for good. A good person that has money can improve the lives of many people. Money also influences politics and politicians, and can be beneficial as long as politicians are not allowed to be compassionate by spending other people’s money on their pet projects. The actions of good people and good politicians can help create better lives for individuals and a better civilization.
- Gives the means to help others. Helping others in need is a fundamental principal of Christianity and of all worthy religion. There is real joy in rendering service. Making monetary contributions to good causes is commendable, but the measure of a man/woman is not how much money is donated. It is how much service is given and how others are treated. Money allows people more time to do good. Some examples are; helping at an elementary school, taking dinner to the sick, paying attention to those who need to talk, serving in the local government, etc. We also need to be in tune with God so we will be guided to take care of those who truly need our help, including those we meet on the street.
There must be a distinction made between loving money for selfish reasons and using money to do good. Money does not have a personality of its own. Its use can help or hurt people; do wonderful or horrendous things. The same dollar bill can cause a murder or help the needy; it can care for the ill or buy addicting drugs; it can bring people to God or cause nations to go to war.
Money matters because our happiness can be enhanced or destroyed by how we honor it. The secret is that we value others more than we value money and we use our money to show what we value.