“Money is evil”
“Money is the root of all evil”
“The Love of Money is the root of all evil”
“The Love of Money is the root of all sorts of evil”
You’ve heard several versions of this phrase before. Yet only one of them is technically a correct wording of the warning given in the Bible. The difference may seem trivial, and indeed it is trivial compared to the understanding of the warning, but the subtleties do make a difference.
The KJV rendering of I Timothy 6:10 says, “The love of money is the root of all evil.” The correct rendering is given the NASB as well as the NIV, which say “the love of money is a root of all kinds of/sorts of evil.”
Two distinctions are important here:
- The LOVE of money is the root
- The root is for MANY SORTS of evil, but not necessarily all evil
Of course the bigger picture is that Paul’s warning to Timothy is to look out for greed. Do not love money; many (if not most) of the world’s woes stem from such greed.
Some sins are not motivated by monetary gain. It’s an important distinction. We need to be aware of sins that are not tied directly to monetary gain. All sins are connected to selfishness, and most selfishness involves desiring things obtained through wealth. But not all. There are also sins of lust, wrath, envy. But as you can see, money makes the pursuit of many of these far easier, thus the desire for money.
Another misreading of the passage is “money is the root of all evil,” which is impossible in Christianity, because that would make trade evil in the eyes of God, which would make carpentry evil, which would make the Christ a sinner. If money itself were evil, then when Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions and give to the poor, he would be telling him to bestow evil upon the poor, not to mention any other time he tells others to give their money to the poor.
High doses of money concentrated on single individuals or institutions are certainly dangerous, but the “substance” itself certainly is not evil. It is a representation of the value of property and labor, and if measured wisely and justly, is not evil by its own nature. If we engage in honest weights and measures of labor and capital, if we deal justly and honestly with business, if we are charitable and selfless, the possessions we have, including money, are a holy blessing, and we must make them a holy offering.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, craving money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
Loving money is the very source of many of the world’s evils. Some people want money so bad that they are seduced away from a life of faith and—get this—pierce themselves through with grief like meat on a spit, many times through, like a human pincushion. That’s what the wording tells us, the Greek word used only here in the New Testament, a word meant to pierce all the way through and all around. Comparing this with the physical suffering of Christ, wouldn’t we much rather love Christ than money?
The addition of the preposition περι (peri) to the word, conveys the idea of doing this “all round;” of piercing everywhere. It was not a single thrust which was made, but they are gashed all round with penetrating wounds. Such is the effect on those who cast off religion for the sake of gold. None can avoid these consequences who do this. Every man is in the hands of a holy and just God, and sooner or later he must feel the effects of his sin and folly.
Do not love money, nor love the things that money can buy. Love God, who money cannot buy, and the souls of his creation, who cannot be bought with money, but whose sins can be washed by the blood of Christ.