But isn’t money the root of all evil? Nope! Before we start on our anti-profit crusade and waste a lot of time tipping at windmills we need to go back and actually read the text instead of buying into a sound byte we heard somewhere.
The text in question (1 Timothy 6) does not say that money is the root or even a root of evil. What Paul wrote to his younger protege is that the love of money is. So let’s be clear as we wrap up this short “theology of profit.”
Profit is not evil. It is the natural and godly output of business operated according to God’s plan. It is easy for us to condemn the rich. Between our inherent jealousy and abundant proof-texting it is easy to build ourselves up by tearing down those who have more than we do. After all, that is the definition of rich. However, if we are to be serious kingdom workers and live and think according the revelation of the Kingdom in Scripture we owe it to ourselves and to our brothers and sisters to take this conversation seriously. We need to be like the Bereans in the Acts of the Apostles and return to the Word repeatedly and learn to reprogram our minds accordingly. One thing we will learn is that profit is good and money is healthy.
Making money is not evil. Loving money is idolatry. The problem with money or wealth is that it can easily attack the throne of our hearts and take the place that is reserved for God alone. Sin is not just disobedience to God’s Law. It is actually much deeper than that. Sin is the urge, the obsession to replace God with something or someone else. Many things can become our love–sex, family, sports as well as money. Nevertheless, money seems to be a very common idol. Perhaps because it’s measurable. Perhaps because it’s comparable–we can have more than someone else. Perhaps because it’s a kind of scorecard that ranks us relative to others. Wait! It almost sounds like money is an expression of pride.
The ultimate issue is pride vs. humility. Thinking realistically about ourselves is the essence of humility and then being able to move on beyond ourselves to walk with Jesus and serve others. The prideful man, on the other hand, does not think realistically; he thinks of himself as exalted above others. He cannot move beyond himself. He is in fact wrapped up in himself and consumed with himself. The sun rises and sets on him and he is the focus (in his own mind) of every conversation and every activity. A proud man will love money because having it reinforces his false but lofty view of who he is; after all, “I have more than him. I have more than her.” A humble man knows that money is not a competition. He knows that having money is not a commentary on his personal value or worth. He knows that he is not even the reason that he has it, as if some kind of personal virtue is what generated the wealth in the first place. In contrast, the humble man knows that money and profit are a gracious blessing from God just like life, faith, spiritual gifts and all the other things we receive daily from our loving Creator.
Can we admit that the issue is not profit and never has been? It’s not money and never has been. Loving money is an expression of not loving God…period. It’s always about the heart and the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked according to the prophet Jeremiah. The heart has been the issue from the beginning.
So, as kingdom workers, let’s not succumb to the traditional and accepted categories. Let’s embrace our call to business and the kingdom. Let’s rejoice in the rightful output of business: profit. And let’s stay focused on what matters for eternity–our hearts and our relationship with the God who made us and redeemed us at an infinite price.