BY PASTOR T.O. BANSO
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money” (2 Timothy 3:1-2a NKJV).
We are in the last days, and, indeed, people do not only selfishly love themselves, they are driven by the love of money and engage in despicable things, including assassination, robbery, kidnapping, money rituals, etc. to acquire money. The love of money is replacing the love of God in people’s hearts.
Money is both a problem to man and a solution. Money has been used to solve numerous problems and has equally created a myriad of problems in human societies. I once heard somebody say when money speaks the truth is silent! Unfortunately, this is the reality today in many lives. They are corrupt. Corruption is responsible for the monumental decay and frightening poverty in many societies. What a sad commentary! Men have mortgaged their consciences for the sake of money and the church is not exempted from this evil.
In Luke 16:14, Jesus described the Pharisees as “lovers of money” (NKJV). Our spirituality is, in a way, actually reflected in our attitude to money and many have failed God’s money test. The Psalmist prays, “Give me an eagerness for your laws rather than a love for money!” (Psalm 119:36 NLT). The Living Bible renders the same verse thus: “Help me to prefer obedience to making money!”
Prosperity without the Kingdom of God in focus will lead to materialism. There is a divine purpose for prosperity and this is the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Contentment is not a function of what you have; it is a spiritual discipline. Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6).
God has pleasure in the prosperity of his children (servants) (Psalm 35:27) but prosperity is not the same thing as money though money is part of prosperity. God wants His children to have money, that is not to be poor, but He has his own designed path for His children to follow to be rich.
God does not want us to be controlled by the love of money. 1 Timothy 6:6-10 says, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (NKJV).
Did you see the phrase “godliness with contentment is great gain”? A lack of contentment will open you to the love of money. Hebrews 13:5 warns: “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” (NLT). God has promised not to fail to provide for you but if you desire more than what He wants to give you or has given you, you’ll become a victim of the love of money.
Money is not the root of all evil!
Some have erroneously said that money is the root of all evil. That is not what the Bible says. Money is neither good nor evil. It is how you get it and use it that qualifies money. What the Bible says is that the love of money is the root of all evil. The Bible warns us against the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Why? Because when you love money it will lead you to commit all kinds of evil in your obsession to possess it.
Those you think have plenty of money never get contented; they always want to have more. As I have said before, contentment does not come because one has enough. That is why many rich people are not only stingy but also greedy. Their corruption is not out of need but out of greed.
However, not being possessed by the love of money does not mean you are poor or will be poor. It means that you have mastered money and overcome the love of it. Whatever you cannot give away, owns you. Whatever you cannot give away, you are a slave to. We are not supposed to be controlled by money but by the spirit of God.
How to overcome the love of money
1. Make heaven your first priority. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (NKJV). Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11-15). Let your desire be for God. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love with all your strength also. (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). Love God, not money.
Jesus said you cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13b). Unfortunately when Jesus said so in Luke 16:13b to round off His parables, verse 14 says, the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, who had heard His sayings derided Him. Lovers of money always scoff or laugh at spiritual things. Their focus is this world and things of this world but 1 John 2:17 says the world is passing away, and the lust of it but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Keep eternity in focus. Any money or business you have to possess by losing your grip on eternal life is not worth it. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 NKJV). Why should you gain the world and lose your soul? Let that money or business go. When people are possessed by the love of money, eternal life does not mean anything to them. They don’t value it.
2. Be content with what you have. Avoid greed and covetousness. You cannot be content if you are comparing yourself with another person. If you are greedy, you cannot be content. The Bible warns us severally against greed and covetousness. (Exodus 20:17; Romans 7:7; Luke 12:15; Deuteronomy 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:10, 5:11; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Timothy 3:3, 8; 2 Timothy 3:2).
Greed is the desire to have more. Covetousness is the desire to have what belongs to another person. Having more money by hook or by crook is the in-thing in the world but this should not be your driving force as a child of God, as important as money is. Don’t forget Hebrews 13:5a says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have” (NKJV).
Don’t try to have more than what God wants to give you or is giving you at any given time. The life of a man does not consist in the abundance of his possession (Luke 12:15). There is nothing you brought to this earth and you will not take anything out of it.
3. Recognize the difference between your needs and your wants. Differentiate between your needs and your wants. Don’t mistake your wants for your needs. Human wants are insatiable but our needs are usually few. God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). He won’t satisfy your greed!
In what is usually called The Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught the disciples to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 NKJV). The phrase “daily bread” means daily need, the bread you need for that particular day. Most times what drives people to robbery, corruption, murder, and all heinous crimes is not their need but their greed.
Solomon’s prayer is very instructive here: “O God, I beg two favors from you; let me have them before I die. First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs” (Proverbs 30:7-8 NLT). I am sure he prayed that prayer realizing how destructive riches could be if you are not mature to handle it well. Of course, nobody should be in doubt about the destructive power of poverty.
Solomon was a king who enjoyed the best of everything he wanted and all his escapades are documented for us in the book of Ecclesiastes. Poverty can take a man to hellfire as much as prosperity can. It is understanding the purpose of prosperity that will help us to use it appropriately and preserve ourselves.
As I’ve said, there is a difference between your needs and your wants. Don’t let the love of money to use to satisfy your wants lead you into diverse temptations. The Bible says, “If we have food and clothing we will be satisfied” (1 Timothy 6:8). It is impossible to achieve this contentment if you are trying to satisfy your wants because human wants are insatiable. Unfortunately, the more we acquire the more we are unsatisfied. The Scripture cannot be broken; we must go back to the Bible to be at peace.
4. Don’t nurse a desperate ambition to be rich. Your concern should be to trust the Lord to meet your needs. An ambition, desperation, or craving, to be rich, only plunges people into ruin and destruction (1 Timothy 6:9). When you find yourself expressing this kind of determination, watch it – the love of money is creeping into your heart.
God never said all His children would become millionaires but He promised to meet their needs; He promised to bless them. In fact, He has already blessed them. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (Ephesians 1:3 NLT).
If you are determined to be a millionaire, and it is not part of His design for you, you can achieve it all the same but don’t give the glory to God. That does not mean that if you don’t nurse a desperate ambition to be rich, you will be poor. The blessing of the Lord makes rich and He adds no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). God will make you rich but not necessarily a millionaire! Don’t become what God has not planned to make you. Don’t build a house that God is not building (Psalm 127). God may allow you to succeed in building it but be ready to live there without Him! In Nigerian parlance, you’re on your own!
5. Acknowledge the vanity of riches. Solomon says vanity of vanities, all is vanity (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:8). You won’t take anything out of this earth; you brought nothing here (1Timothy 6:7; Ecclesiastes 2:18). You can never satisfy the desire to have more money. Just how much money is enough for a person? You cannot have it all!
The more many people are running after earthly wealth, the more it is running away from them! Life becomes a mirage, a wild goose chase. Many people keep running until they die without anything to show for it. Even those who are able to gather so much suffer from a feeling of emptiness – they have a big vacuum in their heart that all their possessions cannot fill. Be careful of an acquisitive spirit – just acquiring things. That is called materialism.
It is not your valuables that determine your value! The means to meet your needs are not much. But if you want to satisfy your wants, you will be open to and vulnerable to serious temptations.
You can never love money and have enough of it. And once you love money, you will start backsliding in your relationship with God because you cannot serve God and money (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). Ecclesiastes 5:10 says, “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!” (NLT).
6. Understand that the love of money will expose you to a lot of temptations. It will ensnare you, it will push you to do evil things, it will derail you from the faith, and it will draw you into sorrow. The love of money will becloud your reasoning, and blind you to reality until you find yourself eventually in trouble. Only then will the reality dawn on you. It is at that point that you will begin to regret it. You have been deceived. Only God can help you at that time. But why don’t you let Him help you now? Why crash your life before you listen to Him? Why not repent today and turn over your life to him? Maybe you’ve turned your life to Him already but you’re not allowing Him to rule as your Lord. You must surrender to Him totally.
Some people often quote Solomon’s statement in Ecclesiastes 10:19 that money answers all things to justify their love of money. They argue that even the Bible says that money is the answer or solution to all things. But that is not true. Money has its own limitations. There are things that money cannot do. Reading Ecclesiastes 10:19 in other translations makes the meaning clearer. The Good News Translations says, “Feasting makes you happy and wine cheers you up, but you can’t have either without money.” Thus, the phrase “money answers all things” refers to money buying everything needed for a feast, not money being the answer to every question of life. The Contemporary English Version renders the verse thus: “Eating and drinking make you feel happy, and money can buy everything you need.”
Money does not answer all things in life. Ezekiel, prophesying the desolation of Israel, said, “They will throw their money in the streets, tossing it out like worthless trash. Their silver and gold won’t save them on that day of the Lord’s anger. It will neither satisfy nor feed them, for their greed can only trip them up” (Ezekiel 7:19 NLT). Ezekiel said that money would not buy the Israelites deliverance. Money doesn’t answer all things!
7. Be a giver and operate the financial principles of the Kingdom of God. You are the master of whatever you can give away. Be a giver; don’t be a grabber. Be generous in your finances towards the Kingdom of God and be generous to people. Paul told Timothy: “Tell them [the rich] to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others” (1 Timothy 6:18 NLT).
Giving is an antidote to the love of money. The Bible warns, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be” (Matthew 6:19-21 NLT).
Some think that if they give, what they have will finish. That is not what the Bible says. When you give, you create more room for yourself to receive. Proverbs 11:24 says, “Sometimes you can become rich by being generous or poor by being greedy” (CEV). You can break the spirit of greed, stinginess, and love of money by consistent and regular giving. The Bible assures us of harvest when we give (Genesis 8:22; Galatians 6:7). Remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Operating the kingdom’s financial principles brings you under the blessing of God that will make you rich without you being possessed by the love of money. Such principles, in addition to honouring God with your possessions in offerings or gifts cheerfully, voluntarily, and regularly, are honesty, just measures, wise spending, etc.
8. Carefully and regularly examine your motives. It is very easy for somebody to slip into a mental condition of love of money without knowing it. Ask yourself: why am I doing what I am doing? Am I recently under a strange desire to make more and more money? Is it through righteous means? For what purpose and at whose expense am I getting the money? Is it at the expense of my time of fellowship with God privately in prayer and Bible study and corporate fellowship with saints, my family, or my integrity? Am I doing it for my wants or for my needs? 1 Corinthians 11:28a says a man should examine himself. So examine yourself. 2 Corinthians 13:5 also tells us to examine ourselves whether we are still in the faith. Examine yourself.
As we’ve seen in the introductory part of this message, the love of money will be prevalent in the last days – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money” (2 Timothy 3:1-2a NKJV).
The love of money is part of the love of the world that the Bible warns against in 1 John 2:15. You are to love the Lord and not to love the world. So examine yourself and make amends today. God knows what is in your mind already; He does not have to find out. He weighs your motives more than your actions. Proverbs 16:2 says, “People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives” (NLT).
Conclusion: Don’t run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit (Jude 11). Don’t be like those who can do anything for money. As the saying goes, “Money is a good servant but a bad master.” If money is your master, you’ll do anything for it. Balaam, giving Israel’s enemy support, did Israel much harm but was eventually killed by the Israelites (Joshua 13:22).
Be careful that you don’t fall for the craze in the world to crave money. Trust God for your provision but don’t be idle because whoever refuses to work should not eat (1 Thessalonians 3:10). Also, let your motive be pure, obey kingdom financial principles, and constantly examine yourself that the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches have not crept in to choke the Word of God in your heart – protect the word of God you hear (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19).
Hold lightly the things of this world; don’t be attached to them. “Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away” (1 Corinthians 7:31 NLT). Beware! Don’t let the love of money replace the love of God in your heart. These are the last days. I pray that the Lord will keep you from falling into diverse temptations as you interact with life in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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