The Love of Money

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President Spencer W. Kimball taught of the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy. He said:

“In a stake recently I interviewed a man for an important position in the stake reorganization. And I said to him, ‘What is your occupation?’ And he said, ‘I operate a service station.’ And I asked, ‘Do you operate on the Sabbath?’ His answer was, ‘No, I do not.’ ‘Well, how can you get along? Most service station operators seem to think they must open on the Sabbath.’ ‘I get along well,’ he said. ‘The Lord is good to me.’ ‘Do you not have stiff competition?’ I asked. ‘Yes, indeed,’ he replied. ‘Across the street is a man who keeps open all day Sunday.’ ‘And you never open?’ I asked. ‘No, sir,’ he said, ‘and I am grateful, and the Lord is kind, and I have sufficient for my needs.’

“I was in another stake, also in a reorganization program, and another brother was considered for one of the highest positions; and when we asked him of his occupation, he said he was a grocer by trade. ‘Well, most of the stores keep open on the Sabbath. Do you?’ ‘We lock our store on Sunday,’ he said. ‘But how can you compete with these people who are open seven days a week?’ ‘We compete. At least we get along very well,’ was his reply. ‘But would not the Sabbath be your biggest day?’ ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘we would probably sell twice as much on the Sabbath as we would on an average day, but we get along without it, and the Lord has been kind; he has been gracious; he has been good.’ … And I could not refrain from saying, ‘God bless you, my faithful brother. The Lord will not be unmindful of these seeming sacrifices. Your dollars are clean. They will surely not hinder you in finding your way into the kingdom of God.’” (Source)

While these are nice stories about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, I want to focus on what Pres. Kimball stated about money: “Your dollars are clean. They will surely not hinder you in finding your way into the kingdom of God.”

Jesus taught on this principle: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matt. 19: 23-26).

Jesus taught at least two important things with this. 1) Rich people have a very hard time entering the kingdom of heaven. 2) People cannot save themselves but God can save them.

Actually, if we read these verses more closely we see that Christ was not just talking about rich people having a difficult time entering the kingdom of heaven; His disciples asked, “Who then can be saved?” Why would they ask this if Christ was talking just about rich people? They wouldn’t. So while the Savior stressed the difficulty that rich people have, it is the same difficulty that we all share; namely, we are unable to save ourselves.

Elsewhere in the New Testament we read:

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness…. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Tim. 6:8-11, 17-19).

There are many temptations that afflict the rich that do not afflict those who are not rich (conversely, there are temptations that afflict the poor that might not afflict the rich). But notice the terminology: “they that will be“, not “they that are“. I really think Paul was focusing on people who may or may not have a lot of money but who love money and will do anything they can to get more of it. That is where the problem is, in the people who worship money. If wealthy people love their money, much evil will ensue. A camel cannot fit through the eye of a needle, it’s hard enough to get a thread through one! And yes, when Jesus said “eye of a needle” he meant a needle and not some gate into the city. So wealthy people have a difficult time entering the kingdom of heaven. Why is this?

One thing that heaven requires is consecration. You have to give up all you have for the cause of the Lord. Wealthy people oftentimes have a difficult time letting go of their money (which is what happened in the context of Jesus talking about camels and needles). Money also brings pride. Pride brings love of money. Pride is the great sin. Loving money leads to much evil. I’ve seen a number of families and individuals destroyed because of fights over money.

The only way to counteract this is to trust in the living God. So is there any way for wealthy people to be saved? Yes. They need to trust God and make sure that their money is clean. That’s what Pres. Kimball said, “Your dollars are clean [because they were not earned on the Sabbath day]. They will surely not hinder you in finding your way into the kingdom of God.” In other words, filthy lucre is a curse, clean money is not a hindrance (notice he also didn’t say that clean money was a boon either). We need to invest more in heavenly things than in earthly things. We need to invest in the Church and in the Lord. Only the Lord provides eternal returns.

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