No Free Lunch: Economics for a Fallen World: Third Edition, Revised

Chapter Twelve: Money Mischief 275 THE ROOT OF ALL KINDS OF EVIL 1 Timothy 6:6-11 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. 7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. 8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11 But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Contentment. Now there is challenge for Christians. Can you think of a time when you were content? Maybe after a great Thanksgiving meal? Maybe after your team finally won the Super Bowl? We are content for a time, maybe for a season. But contentment seems to be a temporary thing—a condition rather than an attitude. All human action arises from a mental process of evaluating means and ends; we imagine that a certain action will lead to certain results, and that the action will lead to an improved condition. If biblical contentment was intended to be satisfaction with a given condition, we would never act! Contentment from a biblical standard, however, is nothing like this. Contentment is our attitude within a given material condition, not the satisfaction of the material condition itself. Paul reinforces this in Philippians where he says he has learned to be content in all situations, even when in great physical need. This passage from 1 Timothy highlights that the love of money itself is behind all sorts of evil, and the pursuit of the wealth that money represents can lead one to value material things above God, which is idolatry. There is an analogue to this in monetary theory, which we will see in this chapter: the pursuit of money beyond what is needed to support commerce (and we’ll define what that amount is!) leads to great inflationary problems. Wicked men have historically used their love of money to try and print (or debauch) their way to prosperity.