Monday, April 16, 2007

Love of Money....Root of All Evil? (Part 1)

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:

* conceit
* 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!

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Anonymous said...

If I have true contentment as Paul says, "But godliness with contentment is great gain." Doesnt that hinder my desire to progress? Nice pic.

Anonymous said...

"Instead of condemning the rich for possessing the root of all evil." This statement seems to contradict the statement about the "love of money" or are you trying to say the rich possess a heart that loves money?

The comment regarding "desire to progress" is huge and has many doctrinal issues. Here is the question? Whose desire are we to be concerned with? My own or God's? God says be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Gen 1:28) Sounds like it is God that desires us to produce and make progress so that all the Glory goes to Him and not us.

SierraSojourner said...

Concerning the last comment:

"Instead of condemning the rich for possessing the root of all evil,..."
This was poorly written and i didnt quite get my point across. I was being facetious - I meant the rich actually posses 'money', not really 'the root of evil.' That was a little sarcasm i guess. My point is that money is not really the issue, its one's heart toward God and creation that will influence what one's thoughts, actions, and motivations are toward wealth. Unfortunately, our culture has made money the issue - not one's heart. In the verse, 'Love of money' isnt the evil, it is a possible root of evil.
I think Paul's phrase 'love of money' is not easily defined. But, love comes from the heart - and that is the main issue.

SierraSojourner said...

About the 1st comment on Contentment vs. Progress. This is an awesome and difficult question! I think that this topic is to detailed for a "comment," so i'll make it the subject of the next blog post.

Unknown said...


the sum of something collectively.

"all kinds" in my opinion is a better translation. If money were the root of ALL evil, then money had something to do with Adam and Eve. The fact that it did not, makes a good argument for the "all kinds" argument.

Good thing though.

SierraSojourner said...

That's a great point, thanks!

Martin Eshleman said...

Good point stated here. It is the "love" of money and not money itself that is the root of all evil. Great work.

Anonymous said...

If you have been hurt by the love of money then it might become a turn off as in your wife leaving you for a richer man. To quote one wealthy person "Life with just money is empty" Seems to be. some quotes are the love of money is the route of all kinds of evil not all evil. If you do positive things that help a lot of people and just happen to make a lot of money then maybe thats good but loving someone that loves you for your money can be painful. Maybe accounts for a lot of misery in our society.

Michael said...

Good blog.

However, I would encourage you to use the King James version of the Bible to avoid some of the common interpretation pitfalls sadly featured in modern Bible translations (such as the NIV) -- which are wholly riddled with leaven (Mat 13:13). For example, contrary to your assertion that “...i think its safe to say the money is not truly "the ROOT of ALL evil."’, the KJV does indeed state definitively that money IS in fact the root of ALL evil. Here is the direct quote from the KJV: "(1Ti 6:10) For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

Yours in Christ

Will Shetterly said...

If the rich aren't guilty of loving money, why aren't they sharing their wealth with the poor?

T-Childs said...

Yes Will S, if the rich don't love money, which it is obvious that most rich people, however they earned or have their money, do love money, why don't they give it to the poor? In place of God, people will find something else to love. In the West, money is the new 'god' sadly.

The dichotomy is, that often poor people worship money too, even though they have little of it, and although very often poor people castigate rich people for being rich, many of those same poor people want to be rich themselves! Most of us I think however, would like to be comfortable and doing something that makes us happy and gives us meaning. Also, having wealth for people is often more an issue of freedom rather than just what the money can buy; money, whichever way you look at it does bring a kind of freedom with it.

I feel that if a Christian makes a lot of money, that it isn't a problem; but it's certain that if we take a lot out, we should endeavour in every way to give something back, to charity, to help friends and family, and use that money wisely.

Preacher David said...

In the world we work and plant the corn so we can say we have a job and make money, But in the the Kingdom of God , we we work and plant the corn so all can eat. So in the world the money become's more important than the corn. A farmer planted a thousand acre of corn ,and had 10 workers , and sold his corn at a $100.00 per acre to a thousand people and made a hundred thousand dollars. then one day he learned that there were five hundred people that would pay $200. per acre, so he layed off half of his worker's and planted five hundred acre, and the following year he learned that there were two hundred people that would pay $ acre,so he a layed of half of his remaining worker's and planted 250 acre.Some would say that he was smart and wise. the way of the Mammon produce's poverty. the way of God produce's abundance.

Anonymous said...

"If the rich aren't guilty of loving money, why aren't they sharing their wealth with the poor?"

Who said they aren't?

Do you know 'the rich' personally?

That is, ALL rich people, everywhere?

I was reading about Dean Koontz the writer, he is very rich because of his dedication to writing addictive thrillers. He and his wife donate millions regularly to various charities and causes. He is one example, there are many many.

And if you talk to a few of them you'll see they are very quiet about their giving. Because truth to tell, if you are open about your charitable giving EVERYBODY will come to you including the scammers and crooks to ask for 'alms'. Also there are rich people who are humble and do not want to show off their good deeds but donate to the poor quietly.

Don't take a stereotype of a category of people and assume its reality.

It'd be like me thinking oh you are Irish therefore you have a drinking problem.

It's " stinkin' thinkin'" and its a result of accepting popular prejudices as gospel truth.