How many people have heard someone say "Money is the root of all evil?" Its one of those phrases that permeates society; whether mentioned in church, on CNN, in Newsweek, YouTube, or in some modern rock song. Everyone's heard it, but few people even know where it came from or what it really means.
Well, it came from the Bible:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:10 - NIV)
Reading the actual verse lets us note the obvious. The text says that "love of money" and not "money" is a root of all kinds of evil. In and of itself, money is a spiritually neutral item. Since its only a medium of exchange, it can be used for either evil or good. While 'money' often gets the bad rap, this verse is really talking about one's 'heart' toward the money.
Also, i think its safe to say the money is not truly "the ROOT of ALL evil." It was not this root that led to the original transgression of Adam and Eve. However, it is the root of the evil that Paul is discussing in this chapter in 1 Timothy. In the sentences preceding 1Tim 6:10, Paul enumerates this exact 'evil'. Paul describes the corruption of people in verse 4 and 5. Some symptoms:
* understanding nothing
* an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words
* envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Maybe like Tolkien's Ring of Power, money is very hard to wield without corruption. The desire for it can turn even great intentions into evil. Paul, writing to Timothy, issues warnings about this evil. The rest of the verse 6:10 says: "Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."
Regardless of one's amount of wealth, Paul describes the opposite of this "evil." Contentment.
Verses 6-8 say "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that." Paul has a similar theme in Philippians (4:11-12), and emphasizes the importance of "being content in any and every situation."
Instead of condemning the rich for possessing the root of all evil, Paul tells Timothy to give them this admonishment: "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." (1 Tim 6:17-19) Its not the wealth - but the attitude thats the issue. Hope and contentment must be based in God, not the riches.
This initial look at 1 Timothy 6 will be expanded upon in the next posting. To gain more insight, we'll take a much closer look at the context of these verses and who/what Paul is actually responding to. See Part 2 HERE!