Money is Evil?
A Misunderstood Verse
One verse in the Bible that constantly gets misquoted and taken out of context is I Timothy 6:10. Almost every time you hear it quoted, people say that: "Money is the root of all evil." There are many things wrong with this. First of all, Paul never said that money is the root of evil, but the love of money.
Secondly, the verse, in the King James Version of the Bible, does say that the love of money is the root of all evil, but this verse is more accurately translated "all kinds of evil." In other words, money is not the only source of evil but is a source of many kinds of evil.
Obviously, there is more than one source of evil. Pride and hatred are just two examples of sins that cause much evil in this life. But loving money, making it your god, is definitely among the many sins that lead to the downfall of humanity.
If we look at this verse in context, Paul is talking about the evils of covetousness and greed. These were some of the characteristics of the false teachers whom the apostle was warning against in this passage.
I. Perverse Teachings
In this epistle, Paul is exhorting pastor Timothy on how the church of God is to conduct itself. Much of this epistle lays the foundation for ordaining elders and deacons in the local church. But Paul also exhorts him to guard against false teachers, and to protect public worship. Some people have called I Timothy a leadership manual for church organization and administration. The overall theme of this epistle is what the conduct of people should be in the church of the living God.
It is in this Spirit that Paul gives instructions on three groups: widows, elders and slaves. He then turns his attention to a fourth group; false teachers. Paul tells us that the major characteristics of those who are false teachers is that they deviate from the faith, they split the church, and they love money. Paul says of these teachers:
"If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth. Who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (6:3-8).
II. Perverse Desires
These false teachers were so covetous and greedy that they believed that godliness was a way to get riches. In other words, they taught that if you live a godly life, somehow it will lead to being wealthy. The truth is, what they were teaching wasn't godliness at all, for godliness begins in the heart and is motivated by a love for God and gratitude for what He has already done for us on the cross of Calvary. A person who serves God in order to get rich, doesn't have a proper relationship with Him at all.
Paul says that greedy and covetous desires are counteracted by contentment with what the Lord has given us. Contentment is being grateful for the Lord's blessings on our lives. Knowing that we brought nothing into this world, and we'll take nothing out of it, will give us a correct perspective on this life. It will allow us to focus on that which lasts; those things that are eternal.
III. Perverse Money Desires are Destructive
Paul, in verse 9, goes on to say that those who seek to be rich:
"fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition."
Once again, it is not money itself that is evil. Those who have an inner lack of godliness and contentment have a real vacuum in their lives, which leads to greed and ungodly desires. This in turn destroys the man who follows after those desires.
It is in this context that Paul says:
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (10).
If we think about it, there is a whole list of evils that a perverse desire for money can lead to, including selfishness, violence, cheating, fraud, robbery, envy, quarrelling, hatred, violence and murder. The bottom line is that covetousness and greed are extremely destructive.
Money is a tool which is neither good, nor evil. However, when God is not given first place in our lives, then we begin to replace Him with money and the things of this world. Covetousness and greed are the result of making money our god. And instead of money giving us the power and control that we seek from it; instead, money and possessions begin to possess us. It gets to the point where we'd do anything for money. We become slaves to it. And the sad thing is that this master, in the end, destroys its slave. The sad truth is that the riches that covetousness and greed bring us, are not worth the price that we pay for them. For, just as our Lord said: "What good is it to gain the whole world, and lose your own soul?"