Here is a verse that I think will illustrate our colored view well. We interpret the Bible verses according to our preconceived belief. Let's look at 1 Timothy 6:6.
(KJV, ASV,RV) But godliness with contentment is great gain.
There are at least two interpretations for this verse.
- Godliness with Contentment IS the great gain.
- Godliness with Contentment is the MEANS to great gain.
Here are the translations that support 2nd version:
(ISV) Of course, godliness with contentment does bring a great profit.
(GW) A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have.
(NASB) But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
(ERV) Devotion to God is, in fact, a way for people to be very rich, but only if it makes them satisfied with what they have.
Here are the translation that I think got it right: I think the New Living Translation (NLT) put it best:
(YLT) but it is great gain--the piety with contentment;
(CEV) And religion does make your life rich, by making you content with what you have.
1Tim 6:6 begins with a BUT, i.e. an opposite view of the one in verse 5 where corrupt man think that "gain is godliness", or in modern term, cash is king.
v7 reminded us that we cannot bring the money into the next world.
v8 tells us to be content with food and dwelling
v9 warns us that seeking money only will forth destruction and pains.
v10 is the famous one "the love of money is the root of all evil"
v11 tell us to flee from the love of money and go after righteousness, godliness, faith,love ....
v12 tells us to fight the good fight of faith (because the world will pressure us into love of money) and lay hold on the eternal life (things of eternal life, outlast this present life, hoarding money itself is not of eternal value).
The whole context warns us about pursuing money per se. It is telling us that the key things of life is not money or wealth, but godliness with contentment. One can be godly but not contented, wishing for more wealth. It is a bit of double mindedness. This is the danger of the 2nd version translation - we are godly only to gain wealth. The final objective is wealth and not God! God is a means to gain wealth. This is no different from the Chinese worshiping the Prosperity God (财神爷) to gain wealth.
The teaching is God, Godliness, should be our top priority and be contented with God provides for us. Jesus assured us in Mat 6:33 that God is a loving Father will not let neglect your needs. Our attitude towards money should be not to hoard it like the rich fool(Luke 12:16-20) but to spend it to extend the Kingdom of God. Some of us are called to be rich and powerful entrepreneurs and business man too. While some are sent to far away places to bring the people there to God. For me, I define wealth as the impact you created by your spending not by your accumulation. We work for a giving to bless others.
Money is temporary wealth on this earth. Money not spent is useless. Money cannot be bring over to the next world. The only way is to covet it by spending on God led projects in the working out of godliness. Godliness is of eternal value. Follow Jesus' advices:
Mat 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
Mat 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.