Moth, rust, and thieves

There’s a reason Jesus said so much about money—millions of people lose their souls because they start loving it too much. The problem is, it grabs your heart and won’t let go. Several years ago I remember hearing a particular man in our community described as someone who’s “got money on his mind.”

It’s a struggle, isn’t it? Here’s the caveat you’re expecting—there’s nothing inherently wrong with money; lots of rich folks will be in heaven. But even though that’s true, it’s just as true that there’s something terribly wrong with many people’s attitude toward it.

Often we choose careers based more on their average salary than we do about our particular set of gifts, what we enjoy doing, or the kind of family life we’ll have. Some of us lose sleep over our 401(k)s because we’re afraid we’ll run out of money before we die, while some of us spend it like it’s burning holes in our pockets.

Either extreme is equally wrong—one seeks happiness in hoarding money for later, while the other thinks it’ll bring him happiness if he spends it all now. Both look to money to give them something it can’t. Oh, it teases and hints and cajoles, but it never delivers. “Get enough of me and I’ll fill that hole in your soul—I’ll make you blissfully happy,” it whispers. But it lies.

Here’s one of the Lord’s warnings about money:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:19).

It won’t last, no matter how much you’ve got invested. Eventually—maybe before you die or maybe a few years after—it’ll rot away, be spent away, or get stolen away. If it survives the moths and the beneficiaries and the thieves, one day it’ll be burned up. This world isn’t going to last.

And really—that’s the point Jesus is getting at here. Don’t live your life chasing depreciating assets, and everything you can measure is losing value. Don’t run after stuff that gives you a temporary thrill but does nothing to salve that ache in your soul.

But what about us normal Christians?

Oh, his warning is for the rich folks, you say? Not quite—sometimes the not-rich are just as obsessed with money as the ones they envy in the prestigious neighborhoods. They crave what they can’t have, while the rich obsess over having more.

Truth is, all of us struggle with losing perspective over money, with giving it a prized place in our hearts. Some very religious folks have been corrupted by an unexpected windfall.

So we ought to listen to Jesus. Be careful, ridiculously careful, obsessively careful, and don’t let money get inside your heart. It won’t bring you what you think it will.

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