1. In 1 Timothy 6:10, the Bible refers to the love of money as the “root of all kinds of evil”. Why do you think the Bible uses such a strong analogy?
My understanding of the word root is that it goes deep into being the foundation of a plant. The root is therefore the foundation for anything to stand or be seen. Loving money means selling out your love to something that the world system uses to control people.
The meaning of the love of money is well represented in the verse Luke 16:13: “No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
In 1 John 5:19, the Bible says that “this world is under the sway of the evil one”. The essence of the sway rotates about things like money. Money is a “controller” in this world. So the moment your love, your heart, your being is rooted in the love of money, then trust me you are rooted in evil itself. And the concept of money is only found on this earth. It was created by man and we use it to represent material wellbeing or welfare.
2. Has there ever been a point in your life when you felt like money was or wanted to be in the driver’s seat of your life?
Yes. Sometime in 1987, I was at that time employed by Compassion International as chief finance officer. I was involved in a lot of procurement. This particular time I was required to buy some furniture. I went and bought some good furniture but also did some bargaining on the cost of the furniture. I saved almost 25% of the estimated total cost of the furniture. As I was taking back this furniture a thought came into my mind that I should pocket this 25%.
I did pocket the money but was never at peace within me. I knew deep within me that this was wrong; I had fallen for the temptation of taking off this money and rationalized it in me by saying that it is I that had done the bargaining.
But my bargaining did not make the cost of that item to be what I was presenting in the books of accounts because I had paid a different amount all together.
That was the beginning of my understanding of how money can sway and derail an individual. And it could have been the start of my rationalizing of use of money for my own benefit and not for the benefit of the cause to which I had been called.
3. How were you able to diagnose yourself of the situation in 2 above?
By virtual of being the very person that had bought the furniture, I knew how much I had paid for it - that was the truth of the matter. By inflating it or by trying to say that I had bargained, that money I was taking off as mine was actually not my money. That is where the concept of being convicted that I am now stealing comes in. The amount I had paid for the item was the purchase price of the furniture whether I had bargained or not. The money I actually paid was the truth. Anything over and above or below that figure was not truth.
So for me, knowing the truth is what convicted me into the right direction.
4. As a Christian, what practical things did you do to put money back in its biblically right place?
One critical thing I have learnt over time is that money has got to be earned by working. To work, the whole concept of toiling, is an act of worship; it is God who initiated it not us. Therefore by us earning money otherwise, we are doing something contrary to what God wants us to do.
The other side of the coin is that because we live in a corrupt system, a corrupt world and we are also corrupt, it calls for a lot of self control in terms of understanding our needs and working towards them.
This whole idea of trying to get rich quick, trying to get things quick, means you are cheating to get what you want. And for me that is not the way I want(ed) my life to go. If I am to get anything, I should be able to work for it.
One has also got to understand some basic principles of life. The moment you peg your life on taking the change (locally referred to as balance) it becomes part of your system, your understanding and part of your means to achieving a given end. And one has to get to a point where they understand that this understanding is not right before God; we have got to listen to what God tells us in such circumstances and respond accordingly.
For me because I was in control of the money it was easy. I did return the money the next day. All I had to do was go back to the seller and ask him for a receipt with the actual amount I had paid. But in some circumstances it might be hard for someone to return what they took say ten years ago. And that is where we all need to repent. We need to acknowledge that what we did was not right and bring our minds to understanding that pocketing the change is not right, it is in fact stealing. And that conviction has got to be deeply seated in your mind. Otherwise your understanding of what God says about money is already derailed and you will not be able to live within God’s parameters.
5. The more money people get, the more they seem to want just for the sake of having more. What can one do to avoid falling prey to this trend?
We need to agree on one thing here: that we are all corrupted by virtual of our sinful nature. Much of the world system propels the agenda that the more you have, the safer you feel. We have transferred our sense of security from God to material stuff and one of the reasons is because it is more tangible and kind of gives instant solutions. When you have money you feel like you can solve everything. And as a result of that our minds have shifted from trusting God to trusting other things which is in fact idol worship. It is a process where we allow the world system and not God through His word to inform us of who we are and our complete dependence on God and His provisions. The more we look outside God’s word to the world, the more we drift from trusting God to trusting the world more.
It takes spending time, being connected with God for one to build that confidence and know that our trust should be in none other than God Himself. It has to do with building your faith in Christ, building your faith in God, all the time. Because at the end of the day and over time even those with big amounts of money get to a point where money cannot solve their problems. There are certain things about our lives that money can never solve. But for us to get to that level of understanding, we have got to keep our connection with God. Allowing His spirit, prayer and His word to be a part of every single moment of our lives.