“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”- 1 Timothy 6:6-10
Institutes: Book 3, Chapter 7, Section 8, Part a
“Let us reiterate in fuller form the chief part of self-denial, which, as we have said, looks to God…To begin with, then, in seeking either the convenience or the tranquility of the present life, Scripture calls us to resign ourselves and all our possessions to the Lord’s will, and to yield to him the desires of our hearts to be tamed and subjugated. To covet wealth and honors, to strive for authority, to heap up riches, to gather together all those follies which seem to make for magnificence and pomp, our lust is mad, our desire boundless. On the other hand, wonderful is our fear, wonderful our hatred, of poverty, lowly birth, and humble condition! And we are spurred to rid ourselves of them by every means. Hence we can see how uneasy in mind all those persons are who order their lives according to their own plan. We can see how artfully they strive-to the point of weariness-to obtain the goal of their ambition or avarice [insatiable desire for money], while, on the other hand, avoiding poverty and a lowly condition” (3.7.8a)
Humans have a lust and desire for “wealth and honors” that is so powerful, pervasive, and blinding that only the omnipotent God of the universe can tame it, subjugate it, and expose it. We are shameless in pursuing “follies which seem to make for magnificence and pomp” yet we fearful and hateful of poverty and low conditions. What do we obtain, ultimately, as a result of this pursuit? We acquire uneasiness in mind. Instead of internal concord we get internal chaos.
Scripture says that the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim. 6:10). Money itself is not evil, nor it is necessarily wrong or sinful to possess money. The lustful pursuit of not the possession of money (or honor or authority) is sin; therefore, it eventually leaves us empty and dissatisfied. We may experience short-term pleasure, however, that is in exchange for long-term discontentment and pain. The lustful pursuit of money, honor, and authority doesn’t deliver on what it promises.
Since we were created to experience infinite joy and satisfaction in the presence of God, earthly convenience and tranquility produce short lived bursts of fleeting happiness. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). May the Lord bring fullness of joy into your life this Lenten season and forevermore. (Justin)