September 7, 1993
Cicero said, “There is no fortress so strong that money cannot take it.” Joe E. Lewis figured that money is so powerful that “the only thing it cannot buy is poverty.”
Both men put money and power on the same pedestal and many of us do the same thing. Who has not said or at least thought, “If I had enough money I could do what I want”?
Neither money or power is good or evil; what we do with them makes the distinction. Immense fortunes administered by influential people have benefitted thousands of needy people. Immense fortunes administered by powerful criminals have harmed thousands more. The difference is in priority: the criminal uses people for personal gain, whereas the philanthropist uses gain for people.
Even those who are not Christians recognize one major principle in Christianity is love. Love rules out using people for personal gain. For this reason, the Bible tells Christians to avoid having a love for power, or for money.
Jesus warned, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves” (Luke 22). Love does not allow power trips.
As for loving money, Paul said, “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 3:3). Money allures people away from loving others and away from their faith.
For that reason, an inordinate desire for both power and money is an dangerous combination. Behind such desire is fear, the opposite of faith. The writer of Hebrews put it this way: “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
According to this, the antidote to misdirected love is not only contentment with what we have, but also a confidence that God is our helper. He controls what other people do and we do not have to fear poverty, lack of power, or other people.
On one hand, those with money do seem to have power. Anyone who is afraid of people could easily assume money will take care of that problem. The more money they have, the more in control they think they are.
However, faith and love do far more to banish fear than money or power. We cannot be afraid of people we love, nor fear anything when we really trust God. In fact, true power is having the confidence that God is our helper. He is sovereign, in full control of our circumstances and “works all things together for our good.” What or who can harm those who God promised to protect?
Money, as powerful as it is, also runs up against a dead end when it comes to resolving conflicts, rebuilding broken relationships, or causing ruined lives to change. In contrast, love and faith are potent forces for change. People who live by that combination also possess a powerful ability to influence and bless people, an ability that does not have to be connected to their bank balance.