Read Jeremiah 41
Focus on verse 8
It is a rare thing to encounter a person who is not motivated primarily by money. I first discovered this many years ago when just out of high school I was looking for a job and decided to answer one of those vague “make $1000 a week and set your own hours” ads, which turned out to be door to door vacuum cleaner sales job. When I arrived at the interview and realized what it was I probably should have just apologized and left, but I thought since I was there, I might as well talk to the man and explain why I wasn’t interested in selling vacuum cleaners. As I recall, I politely listened to the interviewer’s presentation of what the job entailed and how easy it was to sell his brand of vacuums because “they virtually sell themselves.” He went on in great detail about how much money I would be able to make if I would just allow him to make me rich.
Now, I may have been young, and I may even have looked gullible, so I understand that he may have been disappointed when I turned down his apparently generous offer. I was, however, a little surprised at his reaction when I told him that I had discovered that there were things in life more important to me then money. I’m not sure how to describe the look on his face, other than it became relatively apparent that whatever script he had been following had no response for what I had just said! What eventually came out of his mouth was a string of cuss words of which I only really understood “then get the @#%^$* out of my @#^&$% office”, so I apologized for wasting his time and left.
This was where I first discovered that most people believe that money can buy anything and anyone if one has enough of it. I was reminded of this again in today’s reading where Ishmael, who has just murdered governor Gedaliah along with a bunch of people who just happened to be with him, and who was now in the process of murdering eighty more men who had just come to offer temple sacrifices, but he pauses when that last ten men offer to show him where they have hidden stores of food and oil in the fields. The text does not reveal to us as to whether or not Ishmael allowed them to live after they revealed the location of the goods. My guess is – probably not. In the short description we are given of Ishmael’s actions, it would seem the honor is not a characteristic that he valued.
In my experience of humanity since my interview with Mr. Vacuum salesman, I have observed that where large amounts of money are involved the likelihood of corruption increases by direct proportions; and were obscenely large amounts of money are involved the chances increase exponentially. It is for this reason that when corruption begins to be evident, all one needs to do to expose the source is to follow the money.
We live in a culture driven by the love of money, which interestingly is something New Testament specifically warns followers of Jesus to avoid. The Apostle Paul, writing to young Timothy calls the love of money “a root of all kinds of evils”. (1 Timothy 6:10) The writer to the Hebrews says more directly, “Keep you life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he (Jesus) has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’”. (Hebrews 13:5)
This is also why, in our culture, when a person actually values things like honesty, honor, relationships and integrity above wealth and power, some people have no system by which to process such a line of thinking. It just does not compute, and they occasionally have a vocabulary failure like Mr. Vacuum salesman did, when I told him I was not motivated by money. When the love of money is not evident, typically corruption is also not evident, and all you find when you follow the money is God, because the secret to not allowing the love of money to consume you is to allow the love of God to consume you first. Surprisingly, doing so does not condemn one to a life of poverty. In fact quite the opposite is often true, because when one values God first, God tends to provide everything we need and often much more, but when God is valued first, we also recognize that it all belongs to him not us the result of which is that when you follow the money – it leads to God.