Money and Evil

“Money is the root of all evil.”

This isn’t an unheard of statement. People use it all the time. Type it in Google, you’ll find plenty of people using the phrase. One big misconception, however, is that it is found in the Bible.

Well, it’s not. The ESV renders this verse (which is 1 Timothy 6:10) like this: “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.”

This is an important distinction to realize. Money is not a root of the evil, it is the love of money. And it is not “all evil,” but “all kinds of evils.”

We must not read this passage as a condemnation of money, material things, or wealth. Have you ever read the accounts in the Old Testament of how God commanded the Israelites to build the temple? It wasn’t a pole barn. Gold, silver, and bronze was used in the construction. The priests’ garments involved fine linen, purple fabric, and gold (as an aside, I say we make Dave wear a purple robe from now on, complete with a lot of gold bling).

But we can’t simply ignore the warning. Jesus talked about money and hell an awful lot. Hell is clearly a serious topic, but so is money. In Luke 18 he warns us: “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

So neither money itself, nor the things money can buy, are inherently evil. But the love of money is. Do you love money? Do you love your material possessions? Are they what get you up in the morning? Are they what get your heart racing or do they dictate how you make decisions?

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the ESV Study Bible.

What is condemned here is the desire to be rich, not material things per se when rightly used for the glory of God. The desire to be rich leads one to fall into temptation. This in turn results in the love of money, which Paul identifies as a root of all kinds of evils (v. 10)…wandered away from the faith. The warning is not simply that “love of money” is harmful but that this has led some to deny the faith, showing themselves to be unbelievers (cf. 1:19).

Praise God for money and all the opportunities and blessings it provides. But may we honor God with it. May we not love it nor seek refuge in it.

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