“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5 ESV).
One of the primary concerns related to the love of money involves idolatry. While idolatry may take many forms, we can associate an idol with anything we love, fear, or depend on more than God. When something takes the place of God in our lives, that thing (whatever it is) effectively becomes an idol. Since the accumulation of financial wealth represents the most important thing in life for many, this may help to explain the admonition we find here in Hebrews 13:5.
In addition to its idolatrous nature, the love of money is much like a race with an illusionary finish line. No matter how much money we make, there is always more to be gained- if we are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to procure it. Those sacrifices demonstrate our true priorities, for we generally make choices that align with the things we desire most.
The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes points to another concern regarding the love of money- we can’t take it with us when we go…
“Once again I saw that nothing on earth makes sense. For example, some people don’t have friends or family. But they are never satisfied with what they own, and they never stop working to get more. They should ask themselves, ‘Why am I always working to have more? Who will get what I leave behind?’ What a senseless and miserable life!” (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 CEV).
One commentator ties these thoughts together…
“The love of money springs from sinful discontent with one’s status in life, his possessions, the extent of his luxuries and comforts, or his lack of the power money might bring; but there is a corollary of that discontent, namely, a lack of trust in the providence of God. …In the last analysis, covetousness, or the love of money, is idolatry (Col. 3:5). It makes ourselves, or what may be accumulated by us, to be the center of trust, and not the Lord, thus supplanting him in the very center of one’s affections.” (1)
If we adopt a temporal perspective without regard for God or the afterlife, then our financial priorities will reflect that mindset. If we embrace an eternal perspective that acknowledges God’s provision for our financial success, then our pursuit of monetary riches will find its proper place. That leads us into the subject of consumerism, a topic that we will consider next.
(1) Coffman, James Burton. “Commentary on Hebrews 13”. “Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/hebrews-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999