I was reading today in 1 Timothy 6:10 about the love of money:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Likewise, I was reading Augustine's On Free Choice of the Will and came across this passage:
Therefore, the very same things [physical things, i.e. money, tools, material items] are used in different ways by different people; some use them badly and others use them well. Someone who uses them badly clings to them and becomes entangled with them. He serves things that ought to serve him, fixing on goods that he cannot even use properly because he is not himself good. But one who uses these things rightly shows that they are good, although not good for himself. For those things do not make the one who uses them good or better; in fact, they become good by being put to good use. And so someone who uses them well does not become attached to them. They don't become limbs of his soul, as it were...so that when these things begin to be amputated he is not disfigured by any pain or decay. He is completely above such things, ready to possess and make use of them when there is need, and even readier to lose them and do without them. Since this is the case, you must realize that we should not find fault with silver and gold because of the greedy, or food because of the gluttons, or wine because of the drunkards, or womanly beauty because of the fornicators and adulterers, and so on, especially since you know that fire can be used to heal and bread to poison. Book I, 15
What got me thinking is how often we say that certain "things" are bad. We say it's "bad" if someone is rich. We say it's "bad" if someone has a nice car. We look at the item and determine if it makes the person bad or not.
It seems that both the Bible and early Christians looked at things differently. They saw items as morally neutral that could be used for good or evil. Thus, when Paul says we're free to eat the meat sacrificed to idols, he's saying there's nothing inherently wrong with the meat; what matters is our intentions.
This seems to be the overall view. Thus, when Christ says "lay up treasures in heaven," this isn't a command against getting a nice television, getting a car, having money, or having material things. Rather, He is saying lead a virtuous life so that you can use these items for good.
Augustine seems to be echoing this. We master things. We have them, we use them, but we do not love them. If we lose them, so what? If we gain it, great. But we don't pursue them, we don't make them our master; rather, we make them our slaves.
What do you think?