Are You Free From the Love of Money?
I’m reminded of a story I heard Pastor Allister Begg tell once at a conference. He was on vacation in South Carolina and attended a large church that was part of a large denomination not known for having elders. He was delighted to find out the preacher did verse-by-verse expository preaching and was going through I Timothy. On this particular Lord’s Day, they came to I Timothy 3 and the qualifications for overseers or elders.
The preacher stood up and said, “Today we come to chapter three and Paul’s list of qualifications for elders. But since we don’t have elders in our church, we will skip down to v.8 and the qualifications for deacons.”
Pastor Begg nearly fell out of the pew!
That my dear friend, is a prime example of elevating tradition over Scripture.
Well, we aren’t skipping down to v. 8! Instead, we pick continue our study with the next qualification: “free from the love of money” in v.3.
Jesus had a lot to say about money, in fact more than He said about heaven. He knew better than anyone that the attitudes and uses and desires for money were a window into the soul. So He taught “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money (or wealth)” (Mat. 5:24).
If this is true for all disciples, how much more those called as leaders in the flock, those called to be examples to others?
Paul would say much about money in I Timothy 6, including these arresting words:
“But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (vv.9-10).
Come on Paul, tell us how you really feel!
Wealth and possessions, trucks and houses, clothes and trips have become the idols of many. Those in church leadership don’t have to be impoverished. There’s no biblical requirement for a vow of poverty. Some may even be wealthy according to the world’s standards. But they can’t love money and live for money and make a god of money or selfishly horde it.
The qualified elder may be successful, but he may not be preoccupied with amassing material possessions or involved in “shady” business practices. Paul’s phrase for it in Titus 1:7 is “not fond of sordid gain”.
John D. Rockefeller, the ultra-wealthy oil tycoon, was asked exactly how much money would be “enough.” His answer, “Just a little bit more.” And this from the richest man in American history! At least he was honest.
Pastors and elders should love Jesus Christ, not money. If they are to lead the rest of the flock toward Christlikeness, then He must be their highest treasure, their most satisfying pursuit. Money is a great tool but a terrible god. May God’s pastors and spiritual leaders everywhere set their deepest affections on Christ the Giver and not His gracious gifts. After all, you can’t take it with you. Or as Pastor Chuck Swindoll quipped, “I’ve never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse.”
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight