I wanted to start here since “money is the root of all evil” is a phrase I have heard many times growing up. A quick Google search reveals many who hold that opinion. Money’s evilness is blamed for everything from stealing to stock market crashes, damaged relationships, broken families, greed, loneliness, selfishness, addictions and pride. Money seems to cause people to do terrible and often self-destructive things.
The real verse
Now I hope that most believers will be quick to point out that the title of this blog post is one of the most misquoted verses of the Bible. The actual verse comes from the apostle Timothy:
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.
-1 Timothy 6:10, KJV-
The implications of including “the love of…” cannot be understated. When read correctly, it is the love of money and not the money itself that actually forms the subject of the sentence. Money in its physical sense, remains only an object, a piece of paper, a shaving off a dead tree (well a plastic tree for us Canadians). It has no power in and of itself to be evil, or good for that matter. Money remains only a convenient way to keep track of something’s worth. It can be converted to possessions (this coat is worth $80), it can be converted to time (I will pay you $15 for an hour of labour) or it can be converted to heat (buying natural gas or through the good old fashioned way of lighting it on fire). With the widespread use of online banking, credit cards and email money transfers, it turns out the paper version isn’t even all that convenient anymore.
What is your treasure
What makes us believe “money is the root of all evil” stems from how we see people act because of the way they value money.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
-Matthew 6:21, ESV-
Jesus tells us that what we treasure (read: attribute value to) is what we will love with our hearts and not the other way around. If we attribute too much value to possessions, pride, self-worth from others or the size of our bank account, we will live our lives based on those priorities. Once we value these things above our friends, families, neighbours, co-workers, the environment, laws, ethics and most importantly God, our actions will demonstrate this and we will do things that hurt others and ourselves in order to service our “treasure”.
Working hard, earning money and accumulating wealth is not evil. Loving those things above what we truly ought to love will skew our priorities and if not kept in check, will eventually lead us to do evil things.
I wrote this post to set the stage for this blog. I want to ensure that all future discussions are read keeping this in mind. It is unlikely that we are going to live in a world without money anytime soon, so unlike other sins, we are unable to avoid handling money outright. At the same time, we must be certain that we set an appropriate priority level to growing our personal wealth so that it doesn’t become our ultimate treasure.