Love in Paul (6) Love and ‘the obedience of faith’ (contra ‘when churches go toxic’)

We are in the second strand of three great themes that weave their way through the biblical narrative, OT to NT. The first is God’s love. The second is human love in response to God’s prior love.

Human Response to God’s Prior Love

In the OT, the appropriate response of Israel to Yahweh’s electing and saving love is humility, reverent obedience and heartfelt worship. Love in this perspective takes the form of faithfulness and practical obedience. It is about whole-hearted allegience.

If asked, what would you say is the opposite of love? Perhaps many of us would say hate, or, following Miroslav Volf’s insights from Exclusion and Embrace, perhaps the worst attitude of all to the ‘Other’ is indifference.

But in the Bible narrative, concerning God’s people, a more accurate answer would be idolatry – allegiance to something or someone other than God.

The fascinating thing is that in Paul these Jewish themes continue but are radically reimagined in light of the arrival of the Messiah.

Paul: An Inseparable Connection between Love and Obedience

Have you ever noticed that the surprising, fact is that Paul rarely, if ever, exhorts believers to love God? He never cites the first great commandment (love the Lord your God). The second great commandment (love your neighbour as yourself) is explicitly mentioned twice (Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14).

There are plenty of texts in Paul that refer to love for God but they tend to assume its existence rather than exhort its practice (Rom 8:28; 1 Cor 2:9; 8:3; 16:22; Eph 6:24; 2 Tim 3:4).

Paul’s real concern seems to be elsewhere. As a pastor he is concerned about the spiritual ‘progress’ of believers in his churches. Maturity has a specific form – Christ-like love. Think of his exasperation at the Galatians, longing that Christ would be formed in them but concerned he has been wasting his time.

In other words, Paul’s priority is that a deep experience of divine love will lead to a life of obedience to Christ characterised by love for others within the covenant community. An example is Romans: the apostle frames his mission as bringing about the ‘obedience of faith’ among the gentiles (Rom 1:5; 6:16; 15:18; 16:19, 26). Being loved by God, and love for God is to ‘result’ in transformed lives of obedience.

This helps us to understand Paul’s complex relationship with the Torah. The Law is rejected as a means of salvation – for Jews or for Gentiles. It does not have the power to save or transform lives. But the Law is affirmed in multiple ways as a basis for what a moral and ethical life in Christ looks like in practice.

This is where the apostle’s theology of the Spirit is critical. It is the Spirit, whose fruit is primarily love, through which the law is fulfilled. In Galatians 5:6, ‘the only thing that counts is faith working through love’. Freedom in Christ leads, paradoxically, to becoming slaves of one another (Gal 5:13b). Leviticus 19:18 is reapplied in Romans 13:8-10 and Galatians 5:14: love of neighbour, not Torah obedience, fulfils the law. Bearing one another’s burdens fulfils the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).

All of this is to say that the Torah finds its true purpose in relationships of self-giving love within a community of believers who are being transformed by the Spirit according to the character of their Lord.

That is an astonishing reimagination of the Torah, of the people of God, of the work of the Spirit, and of love. There is continuity with the OT, but OT themes are reshaped and reworked in light of Jesus and the Spirit.

God loves in order to create people who love.

Toxic Church: When Love Goes Missing

Imagine if that sentence was front and centre in all that Christians think and do. Imagine if that priority were to shape the culture of churches and/or denominations? In how individuals were treated within those organisations and institutions? In what ‘goals’ the church sets as a measure of ‘progress’ and ‘success’?

I’m writing this shortly after reading this long-read article in the New York Times. “The Rise and Fall of Carl Lentz, the Celebrity Pastor of Hillsong Church” . It really is a ‘read it and weep’ story. Power, money, celebrity, sex, success, branding, elitism, greed, selfishness, narcissism – the list could go on.

Yes, this is an extreme example of a powerful pastor, and a church culture, that has lost touch with the heart of God – who loves in order to create people who love. But it is not an isolated one in the USA – and it is not confined to the USA. Church leaders and church cultures can become toxic.

And by toxic I mean when love is sidelined. When the good of the institution is put before people. When the purpose and mission of the church becomes about something else than forming communities of self-giving love.

It bears repeating: ‘the only thing that counts is faith working through love‘.

Do we really believe this?

Love in Paul (5) divine love reimagined in light of the cross

In the previous post in this series we looked at how Paul stands in continuity with three main strands of OT love:

1) The elective and saving love of Yahweh for his chosen people.

2) The responsive love of Israel to God’s prior redemptive action.

3) Inter-communal love: the love God’s people are to have for one another

But that each of these strands is comprehensively reworked in light of the Christ-event. We looked at how election is reworked to include Jews and Gentiles.

In this post we are still in strand 1) – the electing and saving love of God but turn to look at how God’s salvific love for his people takes a remarkable turn – the cross of Christ.

Divine Love Reimagined in Light of the Cross

For Paul, divine love is the motive for the cross. Numerous texts illustrates this perspective, but before mentioning a few, we should not skip over how astounding a reimagination of divine love it is. No-one in the Roman world familiar with the brutal reality of crucifixion and its attendant political message intimidating opponents, could ever have interpreted the cross in any positive way.

How on earth could a sadistic method of public execution be connected to love? It would be like saying today that God shows his love through the noose or the guillotine.

Some texts

Galatians 2:20: The self-giving death of Christ is an act of salvific love.

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Romans 5:1-11 is probably the most significant example. Humanity needs redemption and are even described as ‘enemies’ of God and facing his wrath. But due to God’s grace (5:2) believers now have ‘peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (5:1). The result is reconciliation through the death of Christ (5:10-11). The cross for Paul therefore ‘proves’ the love of God (Rom 5:8).

For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:6-8).

Ephesians 2:1-3: Similarly in Ephesians, humanity is powerless under the power of the flesh (sarx), the world (kosmos) and the ‘ruler of the power of the air’. Again, divine love reaches its climatic expression at the cross – it is out of his ‘great love’ (2:4), ‘mercy’ (2:4) and ‘grace’ (2:5) that believers are made alive and are raised up with him to a new eschatological existence ‘in Christ Jesus’ (Eph 2:6-7).

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7.

All this constitutes an astonishing development in the understanding of divine love. Revolution is not too strong a word. It is truly ‘apocalyptic’ – an unveiling of a new theology of God himself. The cross shows us the depth and cost of God’s love for humanity. Paul and John are on the same page – God is love.

Love in Paul (4): Continuity and Discontinuity with the OT. Election Reworked.

In the previous post in this series we traced how Paul probably chose agapē as a relatively ‘unknown’ word that he could fill with meaning – a specific kind of meaning, shaped by the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of God’s Messiah in whom the extraordinary love of God has been revealed.

But how ‘new’ is the apostle’s theology of love? It does not spring from ‘nowhere’. Paul is a Jew, schooled in the Scriptures.

Within the OT, there are three major strands of love that run through the story of Israel.

1) The elective and saving love of Yahweh for his chosen people

This is the first and greatest theme. Everything else depends on, and flows from, God’s initiatory, patient and immeasurable love.

2) The responsive love of Israel to God’s prior redemptive action.

3) Inter-communal love: the love God’s people are to have for one another

When we come to Paul, these same three strands are all present (continuity). But they are reshaped in light of Jesus (discontinuity).

Just how much discontinuity there is between Paul and the OT takes us right into Old and New Perspectives on Paul, and more recent apocalyptic Paul debates. All we need to say here is that Paul’s understanding of love is comprehensively ‘reworked’ in light of the radical impact of Jesus. The result is still a recognisably Jewish theology of love, but one that is now Christologically shaped.

Strand 1) ELECTION

We can see this ‘reworking’ of love in Paul’s new understanding of election. It now includes all in Christ – both Jews and Gentiles. That’s quite a reworking right there.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:13 believers are chosen by God for salvation, are loved by the Lord (Jesus) and sanctified through the Spirit (a very Trinitarian verse)

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

In Romans the ‘called’ or ‘chosen’ are also loved (Rom. 1:7; 8:28).

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Paul frequently uses the adjective agapētos in an elective sense of being ‘chosen’. In Romans 11:28-29 it is the Gentiles who are elected and loved

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.

In Ephesians 1:4-5 believers are chosen and predestined to adoption in love through Christ  

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will

So often discussion about election get caught up in the perceived ‘unfairness’ of God choosing some and not others. But for Paul the focus is very much on election as an act of love – that reaches its fulfilment in the grace of God in Christ.

In the next post we’ll consider how Paul’s understanding of election is profoundly reimagined in light of the love of God demonstrated at the cross.

Love in Paul (3) Why the emergence of agapē?

So why is agapē so dominant in Paul – and the other writers of the NT?

To be honest, no-one can know for sure (since no-one in the NT writes a footnote explaining their use of language). But we can make an educated guess.

First we need to understand the different histories of agapē (love) and agapaō (to love).

The verb agapaō was around for a long time before the NT was written. It appears in classical Greek literature and has a wide range of meaning actually not that different to how the verb love is used in modern English. For example, to have an extremely high regard for someone or something. Only rarely does it refer to sexual love. And now and then it might refer to the love of a god for an individual.

In the Septuagint (LXX – the Greek translation of the Old Testament c. 3rd century BC) agapaō takes centre stage as the word of choice to translate a variety of Hebrew words for love. It occurs over 250 times or so, most frequently as a translation of āhab, the most common Hebrew word for love. In the LXX, other Greek verbs for love, like phileō, appear much less often and usually translating friendship love.

When it comes to agapē it’s quite a different story. The word only appears much later in history, the first occurrences being in the Septuagint. And it is a truly ‘biblical’ word in that it appears only once outside the Bible. In the LXX it is still relatively rare. It appears only about 18 times, most of which occurrences are in the Song of Songs referring to sexual love.

So there is a major shift by the time we get to the NT. There agapē becomes Paul’s (and the other authors of the NT) favourite world word for love. It also develops a much richer and deeper meaning, as we’ll explore in some more posts to come. Save to say here that three big love themes run through Paul’s theology

  1. God’s elective and saving love
  2. Human response to God’s love
  3. Love within the covenant community

So why this development in the use, and understanding of, agapē in Paul? My take is that it’s tied to the apokalypsis (revelation) of Jesus Christ. The Christ-event dramatically changes Paul’s understanding of God to such an extent that it leads to a comprehensive reimagining of what divine love looks like (the cross) and what a response to it entails (sacrificial love).

This revolution in the understanding of love calls for a ‘new’ word.  Paul would have been aware of agapē from the LXX, and its close connection to agapaō. So does he choose agapē as a word which can then be filled with new meaning in light of the love of God poured out in the incarnation, mission, death and resurrection of the Son of God?

We’ll explore the content of that new meaning in a few other posts.

Love in Paul (2): ‘agapeism’

In the last post the (rather clumsy) word ‘agapeism’ cropped up – that love explains everything of importance in Pauline ethics.

From The Apostle Paul by Rembrant (Wikipedia)

But is this the case?  And if so, what follows? What implications are there for Christian life and church ministry?

This series of posts is exploring those two questions.

A couple of big picture points that support the idea of agapeism in Paul and then a comment about words for love in Paul.

First, there are at least 5 areas in Paul’s life and thought where love is central

1. The apostle’s personal experience of God’s love and grace

2. Soteriology (salvation / atonement) – how Paul’s understanding of divine love is radically reshaped by the cross

3. Ecclesiology (church life) – how for Paul love is integral to the identity and communal life of new communities of believers in Jesus the Messiah and Lord.

4. Pneumatology (the work of the Spirit, human experience of God’s love) – Paul’s theology of how believers experience the love of God through the Spirit and are morally transformed.

5. Eschatology (overlap of the ages / future hope) – how the apostle sees love as a powerful ‘weapon’ in conflict with forces of sin and evil; love in the present as a foretaste of the life to come

Second, on a purely statistical measure, love permeates Paul’s epistles

Leon Morris pointed this out many years ago. Paul uses the noun agapē (love) 75 times, the verb agapaō (to love) 34 times and the adjective agapētos (beloved) 27 times. This totals up to over 42% of the usage of these words in the NT.

More than just numbers, Paul’s use of ‘love language’ fits a consistent pattern – it is always positive. Love describes the goodness of God and flows from God – it leads to believers’ love for God and of one another.

The other Greek word for love in Paul, used much less frequently, is phileō (to love, twice), It has numerous cognates such as aphilargyros (no lover of money), philadelphia, (brotherly or familial love), philanthrōpia (love for people); philoteknos (lover of children).

Phileō in Paul is never used to refer to divine love or human love for God. The sole appearance of philotheos (love of God) in 2 Timothy 3:4 is in negative contrast with philedonos (lover of pleasure).

The other two best known Greek words for love, storgē (affection) and eros (passion), are not used by Paul, or any of the NT writers, at all.

Third, their absence has led some Christians to theorize what amounts to a hierarchy of loves

This hierarchy starts with eros at the bottom as the ‘lowest’ form of love (linked to sex and passion), followed by storgē, then phileō and agapē at the top.

There are at least two problems with this. One is that it is an argument from silence. No-where in the NT is such a hierarchy suggested. Despite popular Christian assumptions, there is no solid basis to say agapē is a higher form of love than phileō or that eros is a form of love best to be avoided.

The other problem is that such hierarchy all too easily feeds into long-established dualistic tendencies in Christian theology where the body – with its passions and desires – is seen as less ‘spiritual’ than abstract ‘higher’ forms of love.

All sorts of distortions follow – not least deep ambivalence about sex, marriage and the goodness of the body. Historically that ambivalence expressed itself in distrust of women as a source of temptation and potential sin to men as well as the link of celibacy with spiritual purity and sex with impurity. But maybe that is a subject for another day!

However, after saying this, we are left with what to make of the remarkable fact of how dominant agapē is in Paul – and the rest of the NT. I’ll come back to this in the next post – stay tuned!

Love in Paul (1)

In researching and writing a book on love in the Bible, some interesting things come to the surface.

Did you know, for example, that agapē (the noun for love) does not appear once in the book of Acts? Another is the curious marginalisation of love in many systematic theologies and in NT theologies. There are surprisingly few full length treatments of love in the NT.

And when it comes to Paul, I suspect that love is not one of the first things that many people associate with the apostle. More likely you’ll think of justification, or mission, or modern debates over women in ministry or church leadership etc.

So it has been refreshing to read Douglas Campbell’s Pauline Dogmatics. I read it over the summer when working on an academic article on love in Paul. More than anyone I’ve read recently, Campbell (rightly) puts love front and central in Paul. He calls this ‘agapeism’ – that love explains everything important in Pauline ethics.

The other refreshing thing about Campbell’s big book is how he doesn’t just unpack Paul’s theology and leave it there. His whole enterprise moves in the direction of application to the complexities of our modern world.

Here’s a flavour of Campbell talking about how Paul talks about the love of God revealed at the cross.

This is the first post of a series on love in Paul.

The story about Jesus centered on the cross is a story of love. To speak of a God acting definitively in Jesus as he goes to the cross is immediately to grasp that God is love and to a degree that we find hard to fathom. This God was prepared to die for us – the critical import of Rom 5:6-10. The Father and the Spirit delivered up their beloved Son for us to a horrible death, and the Son obediently accepted this fate, sacrificing himself for our sakes. And they did so while were yet sinful and hostile. There is no greater love than this – a love, it should be emphasize, that was revealed ultimately in the ghastly event of the cross and that must never as a result be reduced to mere sentimentality. Jesus loved us enough to die hideously for us when we stood on the side of those who executed him. Love is this sort of action, and it characterizes our God all the way down.

Douglas Campbell, Pauline Dogmatics: The Triumph of Paul’s Love, p. 257.

Cruciform love is just one way Paul talks of the love of God. We’ll explore a few more in the posts to come.

The pandemic is exposing the myths of Western individualism

This post is sparked by reading Douglas Campbell’s marvellous Pauline Dogmatics.

If asked to diagram social relations, very likely most of us would typically use a number of circles to represent individuals.

Each person is imagined as a self-contained ‘unit’, a discrete individual, separated off from other individuals by a social space.

This is a picture of the person as a self-sufficient person, with clear boundaries delineating them from other individuals. Others exist in their own spheres, perhaps bouncing off each other now and then, but essentially each of us are our own island.

Margaret Thatcher famously took this to its logical conclusion in stating that there is ‘no such thing as society’. Or, in Campbell’s words;

Personhood exists in isolation and society is a game of marbles

p.50

But with even a little analysis we soon realise this is a myth. All of us are incomplete, indeed we are crippled, without a network of social relationships. Our very identity and sense of personhood depends on interaction with, and recognition of, others.

This simple diagram begins to hint at how who we are is bound up with with relationships. The self cannot exist in splendid isolation.

By Wykis – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1618169

This is why the pandemic is so hard to bear – we are being forced to actually live like the isolated individuals of Western consumerism / capitalism. And it shrivels the soul and breaks the heart. There is something deeply alien to our humanity to be in enforced lockdown.

For those us locked away with family members that we actually like and get on with this is just about survivable! But we still miss 1001 things about everyday life – its vibrancy, life, and delicious complexity, not to mention hugs, food with friends, and endless fascination of meeting new people.

For those trapped in spaces characterised by toxic relationships, it is unimagineably difficult. For those living on their own it is a lonely wilderness experience, unsustainable in the long term.

Douglas Campbell wrote his book long before Covid-19 was known about. So his words have perhaps attained extra prophetic weight in the meantime. He speaks of the connection between our social identity and the nature of God – Father, Son and Spirit.

We must let this revelation concerning the true nature of personhood sink down into out theologial bones, since it will pervade all that follows. People are relational beings because the personal God that is the Trinity is a relational communion, and we are made in the image of God …

At the heart of all reality lies an interpersonal and hence fundamental familial God. We are involved with a divinity that is interpersonal in the most committed and relational fashion.

p.52

Lockdown is necessary. But it comes at great cost – and I am NOT talking money here. It’s an issue of love. I say this because Christians believe, as Campbell says that

At the heart of the universe is a play of love between the Father, the Son and the Spirit.

p. 55

We are embodied beings, made by a relational God of love to be in relationships of love with him and with each other. Of course we can still love others we can only see on a computer screen, but it is a pale imitation of a fully functioning relationship.

And so, from a theological perspective, we long for the ending of lockdown, NOT so we can save the economy (although we need it to work in order to live) but so that we can love – for that is what we have been created to do.

And, even more remarkably, as God’s children love they ‘witness’ to the truth of who God is. God takes the ‘risk’ of choosing people like you and me to reveal or demonstrate his love to the world.

So in this pandemic, let us be asking ourselves, how can we as individuals and as church communities mediate something of the love of the triune God to a coronavirus world.

Comments welcome

What would Paul think? (Douglas Campbell)

From Douglas Campbell in his big new book, Pauline Dogmatics: The Triumph of God’s Love.

Not a quote you expect to come across in a heavy-weight academic treatment of the apostle Paul’s thought and its implications for the mission of the church in the contemporary world.

I sometimes wonder what Paul would make of the conferences at which scores of highly learned people sit around and debate for hours tiny semantic nuances in his preserved writings. I expect he might be patient with this exercise for a while, but then at some point I’m pretty sure he would jump up – possibly wielding a whip – and shout: “For goodness sake! Haven’t you read what my writings actually say? You’re not meant to be sitting around debating them. You are meant to be out there doing what they tell you to do – meeting people and fostering Christian communities in service to your Lord. Get off your backsides and get moving!” Doubtless this challenge would be accompanied by the sounds of tables being overturned and piles of pristine books crashing to the floor. (p. 4)

Paul in One Sentence – Michael Gorman

9781556351952

I’m reading a bunch of stuff on Paul and love at the moment. This is from Michael Gorman, one of the most astute and insightful interpreters of Paul around today.

From his book Reading Paul

It’s well worth reading over several times and then mulling over some more ..

It’s all there – can you see anything missing?

That’s some story.

If it doesn’t make you sit up and take notice then maybe you’ve become innoculated to how outlandishly unlikely the Christian faith is.

This isn’t a clever philosophy or an ethic to live a virtuous life. It’s a story of God and his loving action in the world. A story that calls for a response of faith, thanks and complete commitment to a radically different way of life.

How do you think the lives of individual Christians and local churches would be transformed if this one sentence was understood, believed and acted on?

Paul preached, and then explained in various pastoral, community-forming letters, a narrative, apocalyptic, theopolitical gospel (1) in continuity with the story of Israel and (2) in distinction to the imperial gospel of Rome (and analogous powers) that was centered on God’s crucified and exalted Messiah Jesus, whose incarnation, life, and death by crucifixion were validated and vindicated by God in his resurrection and exaltation as Lord, which inaugurated the new age or new creation in which all members of this diverse but consistently covenantally dysfunctional human race who respond in self-abandoning and self-committing faith thereby participate in Christ’s death and resurrection and are (1) justified, or restored to right covenant relations with God and with others; (2) incorporated into a particular manifestation of Christ the Lord’s body on earth, the church, which is an alternative community to the status-quo human communities committed to and governed by Caesar (and analogous rulers) and by values contrary to the gospel; and (3) infused both individually and corporately by the Spirit of God’s Son so that they may lead “bifocal” lives, focused both back on Christ’s first coming and ahead to his second, consisting of Christlike, cruciform (cross-shaped) (1) faith and (2) hope toward God and (3) love toward both neighbors and enemies (a love marked by peaceableness and inclusion), in joyful anticipation of (1) the return of Christ, (2) the resurrection of the dead to eternal life, and (3) the renewal of the entire creation.

A Dialogue with Ben Witherington on The Message of Love (28) Love of money

This9781783595914 is a dialogue with Professor Ben Witherington about my book The Message of Love

336 pages $12.49 paperback on Amazon or £12.99 paperback IVP UK  or £9.99 ebook 

BEN: Last question!!!  Your useful chapter about money talks about love gone wrong, love for things instead of people, and the using of people to get things. In short, the sin of greed and acquisitiveness.

I was once watching TV in New York and Reverend Ike came on the TV and said the following: “our Scripture for today is from St. Paul ‘the lack of money is the root of all evil’.  After dismembering Paul’s actual words he then went on to say ‘if money is causing you problems and temptations, then send it to me, and I will relieve you of that temptation’ and so on. I remember well a little pamphlet my old prof at GCTS, Gordon Fee wrote called ‘The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospel’.  What do you see as the cure for that disease, the cure for misdirected love???

PATRICK: Gordon Fee commenting on I Timothy 6 asks that given the strength of the warnings about the spiritual dangers of money

“Why would any Christian want to get rich?”

Riches are a temptation and trap that ensnare those that desire them. If that sounds odd to us maybe it’s because we are shaped by a culture where the pursuit of wealth is seen as a good thing and accumulating riches equal ‘success’.

There is a nest of issues here around the heart, misdirected love, destructive desires, greed and dissatisfaction – always wanting more. The Bible’s unvarnished diagnosis of this is idolatry – seeking purpose, fulfilment and security in money and the power it brings rather than in God.

Regarding a ‘cure’ – I guess the first step is diagnosis of the problem. And that needs courage by pastors and teachers, perhaps particularly within American Christianity which exists within probably one of the most acquisitive cultures that has existed in human history. When did you last hear a sermon about greed I wonder? Yet, as is often said, Scripture has far more to say about money than pretty well any other ethical issue.

Imagine if the church’s ‘default’ attitude to wealth was caution and warnings about its potentially toxic effects. That would be a huge shift and bring us back closer to the attitudes of Christians of the early church.

A second step is de-idolizing money through rightly-directed love. It’s fascinating how Paul’s ‘answer’ to the problem in 1 Timothy is not a list of rules – he goes for the heart. He has confidence the power of the gospel to transform hearts, minds and behaviour. Love of money is a spiritual problem. The ‘treatment’ is to find our security in the love of God “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17b). To be people of contentment, hope, generosity and other-directed love. An acid test of where our security and hope really lies is how generous we are with temporary resources with which we have been entrusted. 

THAT’S ALL FOLKS., THANKS FOR ALL YOUR Answers.