How Money Became a Sin

Why Do They Say Those Awful Things About Money?

Been hearing it all my life — “The love of money is the root of all evil”.

It’s in the holy scriptures, right? Of course, many teachers and gurus make a big deal of this, explaining the distinction that “It’s not money that’s evil, it’s the LOVE of money.”

Well, here’s the thing. Long before there was money (OR the love of money), evil reared its ugly head when the Angel Lucifer led a rebellion in heaven. (At least, that’s the Judeo-Christian version of the story.)

And again, before there was money, Eve listened to the serpent and ate some free fruit. That, too, was sin.

Then a couple of decades after the apple incident, when Cain dropped a major rock on his brother Able’s head and crushed it, that had nothing to do with money, either.

So what’s this stuff about money causing all evil?

Saint Paul’s Hangup

If you’re not from a Christian or Jewish background, you may be wondering just where the particular heck a goofy idea like that originated. Actually it was written a long time ago by a guy named Paul to his protege Timothy, and is now preserved in what Christians call the New Testament (1st Timothy 6:10).

But the simplest of logic has already told us that old Paul was wrong — or at the very least he got seriously carried away and laid out one claim too many.

What started me thinking on this topic was a recent DVD series.

My wife and I enjoy movies. We especially love old classic flix, but we also like action movies, feel-good movies, comedies, mysteries, and even the occasional “socially significant” movie if it isn’t too big a downer. Anything that has a good “people” storyline is a surefire winner at our house.

Well we had just about exhausted the shelves of one local video store, so the clerk suggested a series they had recently started carrying. It was titled “Supernatural.”

We rented the first three DVDs and took them home. After watching two of them, I suggested, “Let’s not bother with disk three.”

My wife agreed. She commented, “The two brothers in the series are always fighting evil, which should be a good thing, but it seems like every episode is overflowing with so much anger and grudges and spite. I’d rather not spend my time with people like that.”

And that’s when it struck me — when we want to personify evil, we show people (or spirits or creatures) that are consumed by resentment, jealousy, and hatred. If money appears in the equation at all, it’s usually just the excuse for all the ugly stuff.

Even the archetypical greedy tycoon or politician is motivated not so much by the love of money as by a deep-seated insecurity — he’s just not good enough and has to gain an edge somehow. He compulsively wants more and more.

A Different Story

If you spend any time watching the news these days, you may have noticed how these same storylines regularly appear in what we laughingly call real life news.

So if you’ve been influenced by that old Biblical caution that money is connected with evil, it’s probably time to rethink that and maybe consider discarding it. After all, that belief is ONLY a belief. It’s a bunch of hooie, and we both know it. You’ve probably known it for a long time, but may not have quite worked up the nerve to go against “what God says.”

The truth is, everything that’s represented as what God says — every word of it — has been brought to us by men. Now maybe they were good men, well-intentioned men. But they were just men, for goodness’ sake. Men with the same kinds of strengths and weaknesses, successes and foibles that you and I have. They just made huge claims for the words they were writing.

And until you can stand up to the authority of men who claim big things for themselves, and instead live according to the God within your own heart, you’re not following God. You’re following men. Period.

I know there’ll probably be some flames in response to what I’m writing here, but that’s okay. It’s time this was said.

There is a very great danger in following men. Even someone who you think is a very good man (or woman).

The Destination of Good Intentions

Some years back, the followers of a preacher named Jim Jones thought he was a good man, so nearly a thousand of those followers drank his Cool Aid. It was laced with deadly poison.

And in Japan, Shoko Asahara’s followers considered him a good and wise man, so they killed several people who were “threatening” their group. And finally, because a “good man” said they should, they set out sarin nerve gas on a rush-hour train in Tokyo.

The basic, core teachings of most religions suggest that the true voice of God comes, not from another person, but from within yourself. So if you’re following somebody — anybody — who tells you to do harm to others, for ANY reason, then it’s time to get as far away as possible from that leader and listen to the voice within. The voice of God does not urge hatred, mayhem, injury or killing. It urges acceptance, inclusion and love.

Unfortunately, any man who is sure of his voice will SEEM sure of his facts. And it’s SO easy to just follow that voice. Its so much easier than thinking, easier than making our own decisions, easier than going against the popular tide.

But thinking is the right thing to do.

And one of the most common misconceptions taught by some well-intentioned teachers is that there’s something wrong with money. Something wrong with wanting it, with having it, and with enjoying it. (Meanwhile, they’re always asking you to give yours to them.)

A Still, Little Voice

Why not go inside your own heart. Go deeper than the memories of thundering men proclaiming THEIR ideas of what God thinks. Go deep enough to hear the still, small voice that tells you what’s right for you.

What you may discover is that God doesn’t care one way or the other about money. Because money, like everything else man has created, is just a tool.

What would you think of a carpenter who believed that his hammer and saw were evil? Or a housepainter who shunned his extension ladder and brushes?

You’d probably wonder how they got so weird, right? And yet, we do the same thing by shying away from money, which is just another tool.

Referring back to the first three examples at the head of this post, you may have already noticed the one thing that all three situations had in common. Envy. Lucifer wanted more power. Eve and Adam wanted the one thing God had set off limits. And Cain was jealous of the approval Able was receiving.

So rather than the love of money, it would appear that envy might be the real culprit here. So am I belaboring the point?

Am I? You decide — how do you feel about money right now? Would a strong surge of success in your career prompt flutters of guilt? Or are you absolutely free to have all you want?

You decide.

Cheers from sunny Japan,

Charles


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