“The Bible Says…” Are You Sure? (part 3)
I pray my last post was helpful to you. Today, in part 3 of this 5-part blog series, we take a look at a very popular saying that many believe is found in the Christian Scriptures. It has been screen printed on shirts, graffiti tagged on walls, placed on coffee mugs, and even tatted on people’s bodies. And here it is:
“Money is the root of all evil.”
But before you run to your favorite tattoo shop and get this inked on your arm or wherever, you might want to double check to see if it squares with what the Bible actually says. Many of you probably already know that this prominent statement is actually a misquotation of 1 Timothy 6:10a, which says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” (English Standard Version) As we read this sentence slowly and carefully, two points emerge:
1. It is not simply money that is in view here, but rather the love of money.
Money (like food, the internet or television, sex, etc.) is not inherently sinful, evil, or wrong. It is amoral in nature. It is our inordinate desire for, attitude towards, and attachment to it that is the problem. Paul speaks of this in verse 9 of 1 Timothy 6, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (emphasis mine; ESV) When you take the particular Greek word for desire used in this verse into account, you understand that Paul is speaking of a deliberate setting of the mind and affections on becoming rich. This is not just a simple and occasional desire to have more money; rather, it is a constant preoccupation with making more of it – my mind on my money and my money on my mind – to the point where one casts off biblical wisdom and common sense, resolving to obtain more money by any means necessary, even if those means are foolish or sinful. As someone once said, “There is nothing wrong with you having money as long as money doesn’t have you.” The love of money is when money has you.
2. The love of money is a root – not the root – of all kinds of evil.
When you look at the vices in our western culture, one would be hard-pressed to not agree with this truth. We’ve turned what would normally be classified as gluttony into a sport of sorts, cheering on men and women as they gorge their bellies with various types of foods all for, you guessed it, a cash prize. Men walk into sperm banks, pick up a porn magazine or watch a XXX video, and lust themselves into some loot. People sell their bodies in exchange for the almighty dollar. Hitmen or enforcers for hire. We adorn gossip in a dress or suit, pay an individual handsomely to be its mouthpiece, place him or her behind a camera or microphone in a studio and broadcast it across the country. Some deceptively panhandle for that paper, conning people for cash. Others unethically siphon money from their baby’s father (or mother’s) child support checks for their own personal use. And the list goes on and on. Our incessant infatuation with money has created a cesspool of iniquity; one in which we wallow with revelry, all the while dismissing its toxic effects on our souls and in our society. It is indeed a root cause for all types of evil.
I believe Trip Lee sums up well the perspective we as Christians should have regarding money (as well as sex and power) in his song entitled “Heart Problem” from The Good Life album. Take a listen and take heed.
So, enjoy money and the benefits it affords, but don’t become enamored with it; and definitely don’t exalt it over the God of grace.