Covetous thinking is what turns people into money lovers. First Timothy 6:9-10 says it this way: “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”
The love of money is rooted in covetousness. You may think covetousness is wanting to take for yourself something that belongs to someone else. You may equate it with the command in Exodus 20:17 which says, “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife…or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”
But actually, coveting and covetousness are two different things. Covetousness is a way of thinking that eventually leads to coveting. It’s a natural, carnal mindset that doesn’t include God.
Most of us were trained in it by our parents’ generation. We were raised to believe as the world does—that we are responsible for meeting our own material needs and wants. We were brought up to think we have to go out and gather up money for ourselves—that we have to make our own living.
We grew up hearing Mom and Dad and Grandma say things like, “Now listen to me, child. You’d better make good grades in school because if you don’t, you won’t get into college, and if you don’t go to college, you’ll never be able to get a good job. You’ll be poor your whole life.”
It never occurs to most Christians that there’s anything wrong with that perspective. They don’t realize it’s based on the logic of the world and doesn’t include an ounce of faith in God. They just accept it and start making their financial decisions accordingly.
Instead of asking, “What does God want me to do? What does He have planned for me?” they ask, “How can I make enough money to meet my needs?” Then they come up with a way that seems right to them but ends up in death.
That kind of thinking—not the world’s economy—is what’s crippling believers financially these days. It’s a covetous mindset and it is cutting them off from THE BLESSING of God. Even worse, it’s a deadly way of thinking that eventually leads to financial manipulation, cheating, theft and all other kinds of evil.
The passage in 2 Timothy above refers to “people who long to be rich.” It’s not talking about people who trust THE BLESSING of the Lord to make them rich and add no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). It’s talking about people who are trying to get rich by their own willpower and human ingenuity. It’s talking about “the ungodly, who prosper in the world” (Psalm 73:12) by gathering up finances for themselves, and God isn’t any part of it.
That’s covetousness, and it leads to the love of money and all kinds of sorrowful, evil things. It leads people to make decisions that seem right but turn out to be deadly.