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Money (That’s What I Want)

The title of this post is also the title of a popular Motown and R&B tune, recorded by Barrett Strong in the 1950’s, the Beatles in the 1960’s, the Flying Lizards in the 1970’s, and a number of other artists. The music is simple but catchy. The lyrics are clever but…what?

The song is fun. Having grown up in the ’50s and ’60s, “Money” is a good musical memory for me. I didn’t think much about what the song said, but I knew that at least a little money helped navigate the adolescent and teenage years.

Scripture has a lot to say about money. You can’t serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24, NIV) Wealth is deceitful. (Mark 4:19) Wealth has a rotting effect. (James 5:1-6) People who desire wealth fall into temptation; love of money is root of evil. (I Timothy 6:6-12) Those who trust in riches will fall. (Proverbs 11:28) Whoever loves money never has enough. (Ecclesiastes 5:10) Don’t set your heart on riches. (Psalm 62:10) There are also warnings about greed, neglect of the poor, arrogance.

Despite the preponderance of scripture that speaks against the accumulation of wealth because of what it often does to the heart, a lot of us (most of us?) desire wealth. It’s part of the human condition that’s hard to control. It’s not “money” that’s the problem; it’s “that’s what I want.” It’s trusting, desiring, longing. But attaining wealth makes it hard not to want more, allowing the heart to become defiled.

The purpose of this post isn’t to condemn the wealthy. It’s simply to say what scripture says. Be careful, vigilant, generous. Jesus said in Luke 12:15: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” In Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV, NKJV), Paul sets forth a challenging, yet achievable standard: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what is is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content…whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

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