You and I hear it pretty often–the misuse and distortion of Scripture. We hear it when people misspeak whether it is out of arrogance and/or ignorance, we hear it. I would say more often than not, it is the ignorance that shines through. Maybe it was because Trump misquoted this verse out of his ignorance or maybe it wasn’t, but recently I saw a post making the rounds. The picture I’ve attached to this post is what I saw, but it isn’t the first time I have heard this misrepresentation of this particular verse in Scripture. The verse at hand is 1 Timothy 6:10, 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.
We often hear it—“Money is the root of all evil” but as you can see there is more to the text than that, quite a bit more. I plan on discussing or addressing this text to some extent so the next time you hear this false teaching you can address it and perhaps in addressing it even tear away the misunderstanding that may have latched on to you.
Paul is the writer of the text and he unfolds the dangers of loving money which is clearly not as generic as the often quoted proverb Money is the root of all evil. It is important to draw attention to a few words to correctly begin to grasp the message of the verse. The word love has been dropped from the modern proverb so many know and it is paramount we discuss this word. It is important to understand nowhere in the Bible does it say money is evil or it is evil to be rich. There are even some areas in the Bible we find the servants of God with great material wealth. As a matter of fact, 1 Timothy 6:17 a few verses from where we are discussing we find more context: Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Notice Paul doesn’t instruct them to throw it away or toss it in the ocean, he says instruct the rich to view riches properly. Paul says realize riches are uncertain and when we have them they are a gift from God whom we should place our hope in.
In the handful of years I have been around Christians one verse that I have heard in homeless shelters to the church on Main Street is Matthew 6:21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This is the idea here! If you hope in money and material things, if you love riches that is where your heart is and as we see above, our hope is to be in God and naturally our love also! Experience is clear and the Bible also makes it clear–No one can serve two masters. Matthew 6:24 is what I am alluding to: No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. In this verse we find Jesus speaking and He makes it clear, love of money is idolatry. Money is a master that people serve and when we serve money we are unable to serve God.
Where is our hope to be fixed? In God. Who is to be supreme in our lives? God. That means anything, any person, or any idea that sits in the number one seat of our lives…ANYTHING that is number one in our life or heart has taken the proper place of God. When we put anything before or above God we have crafted our own idol. Quite often that paper we have dyed “In God We Trust” has become our god, it may not be a wooden statue or a marble altar, you may not literally bow before it with burnt offering… but we have allowed an idol to steal our hearts.
So, it is not Money is the root of all evil but …the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. You must take notice in your life at what, or should we say who takes priority. Who do you serve? Who do you love? That is the beginning of this verse and this is where you must start, love. Are you in danger of loving something else more than God? Have you elevated the gifts above the Giver? Is your hope to gain wealth and material comfort? Our hope is to be fixed in God and our love is to be for Him above all else. Naturally, from there our love for God will overflow to impact the relationships we have with others and ourselves as well. Nowhere in Scripture are we told money is evil, yet we also find nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to love money or pursue it.
We have briefly examined what role love plays in this verse and what it means in this context. We will take a look at other words in this verse in the days to come.