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—NIV)

It seems that money, or the lack thereof, is a constant irritant in our day. It probably always has been since it was invented. Where money is in short supply, so is patience in short supply.

Any treatment of this text must begin with the recognition that it is a direct instruction from Paul to Timothy warning him of the errors prevalent among false teachers. They served the interest of gold, not God. The application to present-day saints is clear. Believers need to be on their guard against any money-idol which would weaken our strong faith in our heavenly Father, the one true God. Where love for money grows warm, love for God grows cold.

Be sure to quote the text accurately: money is not the "root of all evil," it is the "love of money." Money is a tool, nothing more and nothing less. It is the translation of our hours of work into a commodity which has value to others and therefore can be traded for things we value. Essentially, we are trading our irreplaceable time for something we desire, whether of lasting value or not. Wisdom would dictate that we seek to spend our treasure on things that last (the longer the better, i.e. eternity!).

Some ugly words in the English language are used in connection with the misuse of money. Greed, avarice, rob, steal, covet, embezzle, grasping, and stingy, to name a few. Paul says that indulging in this grasping after gold instead of God leads to "all kinds of consuming sorrow." History is littered with the stories of people consumed by gold and its vices. The most tragic descriptor in the verse is, "some have strayed from the faith," meaning even saints fall prey to the dangers of the love of money.

Paul’s advice for Timothy, and for us, is to flee these things (seek safety in flight). The believer is to replace this covetous heart with a pursuit (run to catch) those things which money cannot buy. Money will never produce joy, stability, and hope in anyone’s life; money is merely a tool. Pursue righteousness—do what is right toward both God and man. Pursue godliness—god-likeness and holy reverence for Him. Pursue faith—trust that drives your character in fidelity. Pursue love—cultivation of a responsive heart which mirrors the loves of God. Pursue patience—enduring devotion in hope of God’s goodness. Pursue gentleness—the opposite of self-assertiveness and self-interest.

We were doing pretty well in the list until we reached that tricky word "patience." Just what is God asking of us? Patience is characteristic of a man who is not deflected in his deliberate purpose, diluted in his deliberate loyalty, and is not dimmed in his deliberate piety, no matter what. The believer needs to be deliberate in his devotion to One Master, never the money-master. Doggedly pursue the course of obedience. In the next verse, Paul challenges Timothy to "fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life."

The battle of life has many rounds. Keep your guard up against the swift punches of the money-master by employing the parrying tactic of patience. How can you discipline your wallet as you trust and obey?