Hollow phrases

This week's "Opening the Bible" blog entry at i.ucc is a rant about money. Come and join the conversation!

“We brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it.”
“The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”

What would you think if I said that these two were hollow phrases?

What? How can I possible say something like that? These phrases are some of the most quoted from the Bible!

Kind of like an overplayed pop song, I think.

Sometimes we hear something that might be really profound so often and then hear it so differently than is originally was that it becomes completely hollow.

This week’s Bible reading from 1 Timothy 6:6-19 is part of a teaching letter from a mentor to a learner. It offers pithy (look at me with the scholarly words!) advice on how to be a good church leader.

So why would I call these phrases hollow? Aren’t they pastoral advice?

Yes. But we’ve used them so much and edited them and changed them so many times and ignored them almost all the time. It seems as though the advice is rendered hollow.

The first one is most commonly remembered as “You can’t take it with you.” And it reminds us that we can’t keep our possessions once we’re dead. But we still try to amass fortunes and pay precious little attention to the plight of most of the world. We may not be able to take it with us, but we sure want to give it to our kids.

The second one is related – and is often rendered “Money is the root of all evil.” We’re quick to point out that the passage says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” It’s not money itself – but the love of it. Wealth isn’t the problem, we say.

Wealth is the problem, I say.

In our rationalizations that convince us that money doesn’t really drive us, I think we simply lie to ourselves. We are all too rich to think that money doesn’t drive our lives.

We build up retirement accounts and savings accounts and acquire property and pursue other forms of wealth "so we can continue to do God's work." I think we really do it because we like stuff.

Is anyone willing to give up the money-driven life for a life pursuing a simple life of loving God and one another?

I know I’m not ready for that.

What are your thoughts?

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