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

    



Whose God Is Their Money

Whose God Is Their Money
Original Publication 8/1/2011
Robert Wurtz II


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And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. (Luke 6:33-35 NKJV)


Our passage is taken from what is known as the Sermon on the Plain, and is complementary to passages from the Sermon on the Mount. These sermons laid the foundation for what would come to be known as The New Covenant. In them, the Lord Jesus outlined what the Christian life is all about. All Christian teaching ought to begin with a heavy dose of the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain. The disciples began their instruction here, and we ought to follow that pattern. What use is it to understand the great doctrines of salvation if we have not yet learned what it is to be sons of the Most High?  

This particular section in Luke 6:33-35 deals with the essence of genuine Christianianity, and more specifically, what John called “the heart of our compassion.” He asked a riveting question in his first epistle that is relevant to our discussion, But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:17 NASB) John’s emphasis is on love. For example, he penned, by the Holy Spirit, John 3:16. However, love is not a fuzzy feeling we get when we like something. It is much deeper than that. 1 John 3:17 is saying that if a professed Christian can see their brother in need and then close their heart so that they neither feel — nor act to help, the love of God is not in the person. There is no need to ask any more questions. You have your answer. Nevertheless, we see it happening all the time in the West. People too often love in word and in tongue, but not in deed and in truth. In other words, they love very well until it costs them something. 




Samuel Chadwick once said that “Covetousness is the disease that is withering our church life in all directions.” I concur. Moreover, I never cease to be amazed at how even the most “spiritual” of Christians can skirt around this straight-forward passage in Luke 6:33-35 as if it doesn’t apply to them. How can this be? Even a child could read and understand. They would not need a degree from Seminary or Bible College to put together the nouns and the verbs. It is simple and straight-forward. What does the passage say? But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. 


It is a generally true statement that God’s children, who have means, will give when they see a legitimate need and not expect repayment. Even under the Old Covenant God gave directives along this line. The poor were to be taken care of by those who had means. The blessed were to lend to the unfortunate — even if the year of release was at hand. In other words, they were to give even if they knew the person’s debt would be cancelled by God’s decree before they could repay. (Deut. 15:7-10; Deut. 24:10) They were not only to lend, but were not to grieve for it. Why? Because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.” (Deuteronomy 15:10 NKJV) Imagine that! God was saying that if they lend to the poor and not demand it back, then He will bless everything they put their hand to. This is true prosperity preaching. 

Dancing Around the Scriptures

And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? (Luke 6:33-34) Nothing. Absolutely nothing. How many people do you know who make personal loans at interest? Probably none. Things have not changed. Most sinners loan someone $50, and they expect their $50 back. They loan $5000 and want their $5000 back. Institutions lend at interest, but people generally do not. Moreover, why use the term sinner? Because that’s what Jesus said that sinners do; for even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. That is as clear as anything. How is a Christian different than a sinner if all he or she is willing to do is what the ungodly are willing to do? Moreover, ask a sinner if they are willing to give and expect nothing back. You will find they generally are not and are highly offended at the proposition. The typical response? “Are you crazy?” 


The NIV renders the passage, And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. Our Greek word here is repaid ἴσος and it means repaid “equal.” We find it used similarly with money in Matthew 20:12; Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. The workers got equal pay in spite of their having worked an unequal amount of hours. The sinner loans and wants his equal amount back. This is a very simple and straightforward affirmation of Deut. 15:7-10. If God expected this attitude under the Old Covenant, how much more from those who under the New Covenant are partakers of the Divine Nature. 

Mastering the Excuses

Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. (Luke 6:30)

Who is “every” man? The Greek word employed is the same as in Matthew 4:4; But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. How do we sidestep this command? I have heard it cynically asked, “What happens if someone comes up to you and asks you for everything you have?” Well, I don’t know of it happening yet. These are merely foolish excuses meant to straw-man God’s commandment. You and I typically know when someone has a legitimate need. If they are willing to ask, we ought to accommodate their need to the best of our ability. Indeed, I can already hear another hundred scenarios about abuses; nevertheless, we have to reckon with these verses. We are either going to obey God, or we will explain away the text. It all depends on our attitude towards money and possessions. 

Sin Under The Radar

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Focus on that last statement, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Two sins that rarely get talked about: greed and gluttony. The smoker gets slammed, the alcoholic and pornographer gets chastised, and rightly so; however, greediness and gluttony are unreproved. Nevertheless, clearly in Matthew 6:19-21, a person’s earthly treasure can have their heart as surely as God can. Thomas Manton once stated that, “There are two sins which were Christ’s sorest enemies, covetousness and envy. Covetousness sold Christ, and envy delivered him.” Judas kissed the door of heaven” and betrayed our Lord because of his thieving and covetous heart. How many will be as Judas and come into a sober mind just in time to see the finality of their greedy ways — but it will be too late? Jesus talked about the sin of greed and covetousness many times,  and Judas let it go in one ear and out the other. He tried to serve God and mammon and ended up betraying the Prince of Life. As George Barlow put it, “Covetousness is a sin that comes earliest into the human heart, and is the last and most difficult to be driven out.” 

An Evil Eye

Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. (Deuteronomy 15:9 KJV)


Here we have God warning the children of Israel about what is known in Hebrew idiom as “an evil eye.” In Proverbs 23:6 we learn that a person with an evil-eye, as translated in the KJV, is actually a miser (stingy person) as translated in the NKJV. The NET has this translators note: In Hebrew an “evil eye” is the opposite of the “good eye” which meant the generous man. The “evil eye” refers to a person who is out to get everything for himself (cf. NASB, NCV, CEV “selfish”).  Notice how they are described by Jesus in Matthew 6:23, 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! A greedy, stingy person is capable of anything. They do not care who or how they offend because of money. Everything bows to money in their darkened heart. It is a great darkness. The rich man lifted up his eyes in hell — tormented in the flame — only to look over at a poor beggar that he dissed on a continual basis. I wonder how many excuses he made to sear his conscience into stepping over the dear impoverished man as he laid there in his sores?

Nothing darkens Christian sensibilities quite the way that greed does. A greedy person is full of darkness no matter what their profession of faith. Darkness implies blindness, and when the blind lead the blind both fall into the ditch. Imagine being blinded by greed and trying to bring revelation to others. Moreover, understand that greed and the Holy Spirit cannot live in the same house — any more than could Jehovah and Baal. Many have set up a god to money in the temple of their own body and sacrifice their affections to it. They feel passionately about wealth in a way they ought only to feel for God. This is why we are told that covetousness is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5) Show me a professed believer who is serving money and I will show you a person who is bringing a reproach on the Kingdom of God. 

Some Christians believe that their “Christianity” and their “business” are separate matters. They believe they can act unchristlike when it comes to money and not sin because it is “business.” If ever a lie came forth from the bowels of Hell, that is one of them. It is the excuse of one who would try to serve both God and mammon. It is impossible. 


The slave of mammon will obey mammon while pretending to obey God. (A.T. Robertson) Whereas the Christian, born of His or Her Heavenly Father, views this worlds goods as a means of expressing love towards their fellow man, the idolaters see wealth as a means of comforting and exalting themselves. A rich man’s wealth is his strong defense; whereas for the Christian, as was with Abraham, God is our shield and our exceeding great reward. Many people are worshipping mammon (money and wealth) and do not see themselves as idolaters. Their allegiance is to their money and their stuff — even at the expense of right Christian behavior. This is why Jesus said plainly that we cannot serve God and mammon at the same time. You will hold to the one and treat the other as nothing. One may give lip service to the other, but in the darkness of greed one cannot tell road from ditch. Nevertheless, this has not stopped multitudes from trying to be slaves to both. 


“I have heard thousands of confessions, but never one of covetousness.” (Francis Xavier)

Covetousness is Idolatry?

Most people in the civilized world would not think of bowing down to an manmade idol or dancing around a fire doing some native ritual; but at the same time they practice idolatry and have no idea the are doing it. Here we read from Colossians 3:5, 6:

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:   

Notice what we said earlier about greed and gluttony being sins “under the radar” — here is an example of how covetousness is on the same level with fornication and lust. In fact, fornication is bad enough, but covetousness is full-on idolatry. We know we are to flee fornication, but did we also know that we are to flee idolatry? (I Corinthians 10:14) That also means we are to flee covetousness. This is effectively adultery against God. I have to wonder, how could such a serious sin run under the radar like that? I mean, if a man was caught with a prostitute he would be tarred and feathered, but a man can be overtly covetous and suffer no reprimand whatsoever. This ought not so to be. 

Can’t Make a Dime make a Nickel

John Blanchard once said that “Greed of gain is nothing less than the deification of self, and if our minds are set on hoarding wealth we are being idolatrous.” Preoccupation with making money is a serious sin. This bondage of Satan, not only ensnares the sinner, but effects all around the person. The mind is so fixed on money that their every decision is based on whether or not the pursuit will be profitable monetarily. In other words, if it doesn’t make money — it doesn’t make sense to them. John Calvin once said, Greed and ambition are the two sources from which stems the corruption of the whole of the ministry.” He went on to say that, “a lack of faith is the source of greed.” When people don’t trust God they trust their wealth. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. (James 5:4 ESV) God hears the cries of the oppressed workmen even if the employers are deaf. (A.T. Robertson)


Summary

God sees greed as surely as He sees lust. He see the stinginess as surely as He sees the alcoholic. He sees believers that serve mammon and despise Him. He hears the excuses for why they don’t have compassion enough to give when they see a need. How awful! He sees those that live in a perpetual greediness.  (Ephesians 4:17-20) He sees all the money spent on ‘self’ while shutting up the bowels of compassion on the ones who should have been loved like we would love ourselves. He saw the Corinthians suing one another for money. He saw Balaam running greedily after the reward of wickedness. He hears the ministers preaching things they ought not for filthy lucre sake. He has seen these things and much more. We must realize once and for all that we cannot serve God and money. We are either going to love our resources or express our love with our resources. We are either going to serve mammon or make mammon serve God. 

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. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:10, 11)







  





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