Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:9-11
In our yard we are plagued with an invasive weed we refer to as ‘horsetails’. They grow like long slender tubes that look so easy to pluck out. The problem is that they are supported by a deep and intricate root system, and when you go to pull them they easily snap off just below the surface. You know that a few days later a new one (or two or three) will rise up to take their place. The only way to get rid of them is with a shovel and a lot of patience. You have to dig deep and completely remove the root structure or they will spread through your property like wildfire.
On a recent trip to India I sat under some powerful teaching on generosity. One speaker drew a diagram of a plant with a deep root system. He circled the roots and referred to this passage in first Timothy. His point was, if in our repentance we continually only deal with the visible part of our sin which grows above the ground, we will never get to the root. Paul identifies that root as the love of money, from which all kinds of evils spring up in our life.
The first step on this trek of becoming stewards of the world in which we live is to take seriously the entangled root system that exists in our lives because of our love of money and all it represents. True repentance for a faithful steward means doing the hard work of digging deep and pulling out these embedded roots. For instance, it does little good to repent of our lack of trust in God to be our provider if we do not also understand that the root of that mistrust is a deep-seated desire to hold onto and trust in financial security instead. We can repent of the sin of envy and jealousy, however it will never be fully defeated until we dig out the root of the love of possessions and the place they hold in our lives as we compare selves to others. We can pray against our pride, but, like these horse tails, it will spring up in ever-increasing number until we root out our dependence on the things of this world and cut off the desire to tie our image and reputation to what we make, what we’re worth, and what we own.
Digging out this root system is, I believe, a never-ending process. However, like these weeds in our yard, the more often you do it and the more persistent you are at it, the fewer there are and the easier it becomes to dig them out. What do you need to do today to begin the process of digging deeply into your spirit, identifying the root system that is your love, reliance, dependence, and desire for money and all that it brings you? What will it take to remove those roots from your heart and replace them with rich soil in which the Spirit of God can lead you into a new time of trust, dependence and surrender to God through Jesus Christ?
Try this little exercise and see if it helps you identify the roots in your own life. Finish this sentence for yourself, “I demonstrate my love of money when I…” Write down as many thing says you can think of that complete that sentence for you. Here are a few for starters. “I demonstrate my love of money when I envy what other people have, tie my identity to what I own and how much I make, worry about whether we will have enough money to retire, choose not to give abundantly and generously, give without joy, spend more time studying the stock market than Scripture, and invest the majority of my working life storing up treasures on earth.” Will you be honest with yourself and make your own list? That is the first step to digging out the deep roots of the love of money in your life.
Lord, this is a hard teaching. It is easy for me to deceive myself and believe that I really don’t have the love of money deep in my spirit. But all the evidence in my life points to the fact that I do. And so I confess to you that there are roots in my spirit that need to be dug out. I can’t do this on my own, because I’ve spent a lifetime letting them grow. I pray Lord, through the power of your Holy Spirit, please help me do the hard work of identifying everything in my life that points to my reliance and my devotion to anything but you. It’s so easy to trust in a bank account, a retirement fund, a paid off mortgage or other things that are so temporary. My soul’s desire is to trust in you and you alone, to love and be devoted only to you. So help me today to begin to identify everything that competes with my total surrender to you as my one Lord. And as I identify these roots, as painful as it might be, give me the courage to start digging them out. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.