The Love of Money (Understanding an Evil Eye)

The Love of Money
Robert Wurtz II

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV)


Idioms, proverbs, and phrases, are like rivers; sometimes it can be challenging to discover the source. For example, nobody knows the origin of the term money laundering, but it is thought to have originated during the 1920s and 1930s when gangsters such as Al Capone took illicit cash from their criminal enterprises and mixed it with regular high cash flow businesses such as restaurants and laundromats. In other words, they washed their dirty money in the machines of legitimate business, and it came out clean on the other end. The catchphrase, follow the money is hard to trace as well. Some suggest it was coined during the Watergate scandal that resulted in the resignation of former President Richard Nixon. It was supposed that fraudulent election practices cost money; so if you want to discover who was involved in the activity you must follow the money. 

The great Greek scholar, A.T. Robertson, once pointed out that 1 Timothy 6:10 contains a proverb that was well-known in the first century. It is attributed to the 2nd century B.C. Greek writing, Bion and to Democritus (teœn philargurian einai meœtropolin pantoœn toœn kakoœn), where “metropolis” (mother city) takes the place of “root.” In other words, the pagan Greeks would say, “the love of money is the mother city of all kinds of evil.” It is from the ‘mother cities’ that the offspring of smaller cities spring up. However, Paul’s use of the word “root” is more pointed. Evil is the fruit of the root of the love for money. We have ample proof of this fact throughout history that men and women will commit any sin or crime for money. The most notorious of which was Judas, who betrayed the Lord Jesus for a mere thirty pieces of silver. 



Paul said that some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. The greatest of these sorrows is Hell itself. The rich man discovered this when he was tormented (plural), while Lazarus was comforted in Abraham’s bosom. (Luke 16:23) Many in the first century, and even more today, have what the Israelites called an evil eye. This is one “idiom” that we do know its source. We learn of this dreadful concept when Moses wrote, “Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, “The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you.” (Deuteronomy 15:9 NKJV) 

This is practically the definition of an evil eye. Prior to the year of release, greedy people refused to loan money. Why? Because they knew the year of release was coming, and they would have to forgive the debt. These wicked people would give nothing to a person in need. The poor called upon the Lord, who will run to the cry of the poor and needy. Nevertheless, these stingy-greedy people likely ended up with the same fate as the rich man who had an “evil eye” towards Lazarus. It is a great sin to use wealth as a means of exalting ourselves over our neighbors — rather than helping them when they are in need. 

Darkness and an “Evil Eye”

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34 KJV)

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:23 KJV)

Modern scholars are just now rediscovering some important “missing links” in New Testament exegesis. For years, there has been little teaching or understanding on the most basic concept of “light” and “darkness.” Often these terms are so misunderstood that they are spoken of in the abstract or not at all. Sometimes Bible teachers will shy away from the topic because of what some falsely assume are Gnostic (dualism) implications. However, a close examination of key New Testament texts sheds much light on this subject (no pun intended). 

It is beyond the scope of this entry to cover all the facets of darkness and light. However, understanding the relationship between generosity and light, and stinginess and darkness is the first area I wish to focus our attention. Our texts in Luke 11:34 and Mark 6:23 are front and center. We can deduce from what we learn in Deut. 15:9 and Luke 11:34 that a stingy person is full of darkness within and that a generous person is full of light within. A person who is greedy is not generous. His attitude is, “tear down my barns and build bigger ones.” A wise person once said, when we are blessed with more than we need it is not time to add to our bank account — but to add another seat at our table. This is how we build accounts in heaven… where moth and rust cannot corrupt and thieves cannot break in and steal. 

Stinginess and Hatred 

Hatred is also associated with darkness in John’s writings. We read, But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:11 KJV) You will recall that Jesus used strong phrases such as…”Ye fools and blind.” Consider the context: Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? (Matthew 23:17–19 KJV) To the fools and blind the greatest thing was the gift or “the money.” We can see that they were blind because they walked in greediness (evil eye). But why did He call them a fool? 

We have a pointed definition of “fool” from the story of Nabal and David. Here was a man so greedy that he refused to give David and his men some rations — even though he was rich, and they had been guarding his farm for free. Nabal is the Hebrew word for “fool” it means to wilt. Why do plants wilt? In Nabal’s case, his “evil eye” filled his entire being with darkness… and great was that darkness! If it had not been for his wife Abigail the man would have pierced himself through with many sorrows. David gave the situation to God, and the Lord smote the man dead… similarly to how He struck down Ananias and Sapphira. Stinginess is an affront on the very character of God; and greed is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

Fairness Vs. Generosity

But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? (Matthew 20:13–15 KJV)

This passage makes almost no sense if we miss the fact that an evil eye means a stingy person. In fact, it seems clear that the man begrudged the poor worker the extra money that he charitably received. He was not thinking in terms of Jesus being generous… he figured that he should receive more because the man who worked only a short time received the same pay. However, it was not about the man who worked all day deserving more. He received a days wage. That was the agreement. It was about Jesus being generous to the man who obviously was in need. Jesus is the type of employer who would go above and beyond to help His employees in need. Notice what he asked the man, is thine eye evil, because I am good? The man was so stingy that he tried to control the stewardship of the Lord’s resources. As is often the case today, an evil eye masquerades as stewardship. It is an evil farce. 

Making Friends Out of Money

I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord?And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty.Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore.And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Luke 16:4–13 KJV) 

Jesus is saying that at times the children of the world have better sense than the children of light. Even they know that money can be used to influence people in a positive way. In fact, there is coming a day when people who have been faithful stewards of the Lord’s resources are going to receive for all the treasures that they have laid up in heaven. Jesus said it, And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. Whether we fail (pass away) or the money fails (runs out), the final result is the same. When we get to heaven we will be “received into our everlasting habitation” by those who we passed God’s resources to. This is how we “lay up treasures in heaven.” 

Moreover, God has promised; Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. (2 Corinthians 9:10–11 NKJV)

Favor or Foolishness?

I recently watched a video recording of a famous prosperity preacher boasting that his ministry had received over one billion dollars since it began. Another raised over 50 million dollars for a new private jet. On a local level its not uncommon to have church members heap funds and lavish gifts on the pastor while people in their congregation can’t even pay the rent. They view themselves as “highly favored” when in reality they are “highly foolish.” Who could possibly in good conscience receive gifts from the people while knowing they have plenty already? This is the kind of madness that got the money changers tabels turned over by the Lord Jesus. It’s not an expression of good stewardship or our love to God when we load people down with resources that they don’t need. That twisted behavior defies common sense. Where are the ministers and Christians who would step up and say… “I have plenty… lets give this to someone in need.” 

If we love God we will love God with our resources. This does not mean we seek to fill the coffers of preachers and churches who already have more material possessions than they need; but to minister to the genuine needs with our resources as they become evident. There are a lot of needy people in the world and God has given those who have means a responsibility to do with His resources what He would do with them if He were us. God will provide the “seed” if we will be faithful to sow it into His field of harvest.   

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IMPORTANT TECHNICAL INFORMATION:

The concepts (in Hebrew Idiom) of “evil eye” and “single eye” were NOT unknown to the Greek scholars of the 19th and 20th Century.   

The “evil” eye (poneœros) may be diseased and is used of stinginess in the LXX and so haplous (single) may refer to liberality as Hatch argues (Essays in Biblical Greek, p. 80-81).  (A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament) 

Essays in Biblical Greek, Edwin Hatch M.A., D.D., Oxford University Press, 1889, is available for download in PDF form for no charge at archive.org. This commentary sheds much light on the concept of “evil eye” and “single eye” beyond the standard Jewish sources.

See also Tew Testament critical commentary by Dale C. Allison, “Matthew: A Shorter Commentary“, P.99-100

The Expositors Greek Testament (Volume I), W. Robertson Nicoll, M.A., L.L.D., Alexander Balmain Bruce D.D., Eerdmans, P. 124

The Gospel According to Matthew, F.W. Beare, Harper and Row, 1981, P.182-183

The IVP Background Commentary: New Testament, Craig S. Keener, Intervarsity Press, 1993., P. 63

The Expositors Bible Commentary (Volume 8), Frank E. Gaebelein, D.A. Carson, Zondervan, 1984, P. 178

The Interpretation of St. Matthews Gospel, R.C.H. Lenski, Augsburg Publishing House, 1943, P. 277-278 


MESSIANIC JEWISH/HEBREW SOURCES:

Brad H. Young, Jesus, The Jewish Theologian, P. 140

Roy Blizzard. Jr., Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, P. 15

David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, P. 30-36

    



The Destructiveness of Spiritual Error

The Destructiveness of Spiritual Error
Robert Wurtz II

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:22, 23)

Early in the Lord’s ministry He tried to clarify a common misconception that was sure to present itself in the months and years to come; namely, that the supernatural is evidence of Divine approval. In other words, the belief that one is right with God simply because one prophesies or performs miracles. In fact, our passage suggests that many people are deceived by this belief to the point that they work iniquity while still believing that one day they will go to heaven. This is a shocking and sobering fact. How could so many people be deceived like this?

If I were to remind the reader that the Lord Jesus told us plainly that we will know people “by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16, 20) it is very likely that I would get a hearty amen. However, when was the last time someone made the cover of Charisma Magazine because of their “fruits.” What about Daystar, Trinity Broadcasting, or the Word Network? Does anyone “follow” a minister because they demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc.)? The chances are very low that this is the case. People will line up to see a man wave his arms and a crowd fall backwards or will buy every book they can find on “the anointing” — while marginalizing to the point of obscurity a solid, text-book Christian or minister.


There is something about the human mind that is fascinated by the sensational. Simon the Sorcerer used this human tendency to enslave the people of Samaria. Acts chapter 8 details how this man had bewitched the people from the least to the greatest until they believed that he “was the great power of god.” How did he do it? He preyed on people who were impressed by the supernatural. Had this man been able to buy the power of the Holy Spirit like he tried to do, he would have gone on manipulating them until they were all doomed. Nevertheless, Peter exposed the man and a tragedy was averted. Unfortunately, all too often there are people sitting in churches who are just as duped as those poor Samaritans who followed Simon.

If the topic were less serious we would not need to belabor these points. But “many” are going to by lost on that great judgment day because they believed their own hype. Jesus could personally shout with ten megaphones in some of these peoples’ ears “You will know them by their fruits!” And somehow their mind will default back to looking for prophesies, healings, or some other supposed supernatural event to validate themselves and other people. It’s like the devil is in their minds switching the discernment meter off of “fruits” of the Spirit and on to “gifts” of the Spirit. Tragically, this is not a new problem.

The Corinthian Example

Reading Matthew 7:22, 23 almost always brings to mind the letter to the Corinthians. Among their many errors was the misuse of the gifts of the Spirit. In fact, there were people suing their brothers and sisters in Christ; fornicating in ways not known among the heathen; and dividing into factions behind their favorite apostles — yet we’re still keen on moving in the gifts of the Spirit. In fact, Paul asked, “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” (1 Corinthians 14:26 NKJV) Apparently, everyone, including all the carnal people, were participating in the meetings. That is scary. The devil was having a heyday in that church because the people had completely lost sight of what our high calling is all about. It’s almost as if they believed that so long as the gifts of the Spirit were in operation God was pleased with them. A cursory reading of the 1 and 2 Corinthians destroys that notion. They were in total chaos — but that never seemed to faze them.

I have sometimes wondered if the fornicator in 1 Corinthians, who Paul commanded to be turned over to Satan, had been prophesying, giving messages in tongues, or laying hands on people? Here is a case that could have matched the scenario the Lord Jesus put forward in Matthew 7:22, 23. The man was clearly working iniquity. Yet he attended a church that almost prided itself on the operation of the Spirit. It begs the question: if the Corinthian church was so prophetic, why was this fornicator never dealt with? Why were the secrets of his heart not made manifest that he might repent? Could it be “because people assume that if a person is operating in the gifts of the Spirit that God must be overlooking their sinfulness? And if God is overlooking it — who are we to challenge the person?” Do you see how deceptive and destructive this false notion is? Is there any wonder the Lord Jesus dealt with it so early in the Gospels?

Notice that the individuals in Matthew 7:22, 23 (who will be cast-out) cite their “supernatural works” as evidence of knowing Christ. It was all deception. They think that because they are working in ‘the gifts’ (or at least they thought it was the gifts they were moving in) that they know Christ and He knows them. They seem to have been totally taken off guard by Jesus’ declaration I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. This should give us great pause.

However, notice what the “many” did not say. Lord, Lord in thy name have we not loved our neighbor as ourselves? Have we not given to the poor and lifted up the widow and orphan? Have we not followed after love, joy, peace, gentleness, meekness and faith? None of these criteria were in their defense. Only sensational – supernatural proofs. Imagine the tragedy of this. The people are moving in what they think is God’s approval, while living in rife sin. It was a demonic deception. They apparently lorded their exploits over people until no one dared reprove them. Again, this is what Simon did to the Samaritans. But Jesus said it would be “many” that would say Lord, Lord… not “few.” Despite all the warnings many are still going to live and die believing that God approves of them because they believe they are moving in the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Greatness or Guileless? (Church Politics)

Greatness or Guileless? 
Robert Wurtz II

Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! (John 1:47)


Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. (Proverbs 26:26 NKJV)




I have chosen two texts to illustrate the meaning of the Greek word dulos, which is translated as “guile” in John 1:47, and “deceit” in Proverbs 26:26 (LXX). The word is first used in Genesis 27:35 (LXX) when Isaac stated, “Your brother, coming with deceit, took away your blessing.” (Genesis 27:35 NETS) Jacob had disguised himself in order to acquire the blessing of the first born. His mother was also a party to the strategy. After this event, Jacob apparently repented of being deceitful and received the name Israel. (Genesis 32:28) Interestingly, a few verses after John 1:47, our Lord called to remembrance Jacob’s ladder experience. (John 1:51) This is the context of the sure statement that Nathanael was an “Israelite indeed, in whom was no guile!In other words, he was no Jacob. 


Nathanael (Bartholomew) was the type of man who called it like he saw it. For example, when Philip came to tell him about Jesus he stated, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” (John 1:46 KJV) Nevertheless, being the type of person who would turn on a dime when the evidence warranted it, he became one of the first people to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
 Nathanael had no tendency to pretense. He was the type of man who you could safely trust. A guileless person does not use flattery or other subtle forms of manipulation; they are honest and genuine. You wouldn’t have to worry about Nathanael “befriending” you for some ulterior reason. You could take him at his word. He would not have been the “win friends and influence people” type. His personality did not allow for such deceitfulness and pretentiousness. 


It is fascinating to know that the same man who made the comment, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?“ — was effectively praised of Jesus for his guilelessness. The tendency is to think that such a comment deserved a rebuke; however, Jesus was not praising unbelief — but his brutal honesty. This man had no desire to deceive or be deceived. 


The Contrast


Though his hatred is covered by deceit, His wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. (Proverbs 26:26 NKJV)




Unlike Nathanael, there is a type of person who can hate you in their heart, but cover their feelings with guile — so that you cannot tell how they truly feel until it is revealed. The world calls this type of person a frenemy. They may give the impression to you and to others that they are your friend 
  while secretly plotting to cause you harm. This is why the Lord Jesus recognized Nathanael for having no guile. When selecting twelve people who were destined to spread the Gospel, it was essential that these men be guileless. 


We have additional insight into the bad behavior of Proverbs 26:26 when we read; “The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.” (Proverbs 10:18 ESV) A person who smiles to your face and hates you in their heart is a dangerous person. Think about how this passage contrasts with Nathanael. The word for hatred is translated as enmity in the NETS. When a person conceals their hostility, it is bound to come out in some way. It will often manifest in slanderous acts and other forms of maliciousness and treachery. 

This is one of the reasons Jesus refused to allow the disciples to set up a “competition for greatness” (Sit on my right hand or the left. viz. Mark 10:40) as had been put forward by the men’s mother. Why? Where there is competition (such as with Jacob and Esau or among the disciples), enmity would develop that would destroy their unity. Where there is enmity, there is likely to be deceit (guile) and slander. This is just one progression and expression of the sin of such competition for greatness. Instead of aspiring for greatness we should strive to be guileless.  


Guilelessness


Nathanael was a man in contrast to the religious leaders of his day. He would not have joined the party spirit of the schools of Hillel and Shammai, or Sadducees and Pharisees (for example). He had no ambitions that would entice him to act with guile (deceit). In modern times, politicians will do almost anything to achieve their objectives. What is worse is how they express their hatred of their opponents. They will put everything at risk just to cause their opponent to look bad. Why? Politicians think in terms of winners and losers; whereas Christians are concerned for the welfare of fellow believers and the churches of God.Politicians misrepresent their opponent and attack them in all kinds of questionable ways. Nevertheless, Jesus did not call politicians. In fact, these actions are all manifestations of the flesh — that He came to destroy. 

Revelation 21:8 tells us that all liars are going to have their part in the Lake of Fire. I think it is fair to say that this will include people who are a living manifestation of falsehood. The world may use guile wherever it is useful to them; however, it must never be so among Christians. Beware of any person who can transform themselves into an “angel of light” while around the saints but revert back to something else later on. The destructiveness of such behavior is such that it puts everyone at risk. The world does not mind misleading, using, and destroying people; but it ought not so to be in the churches of God.