Money is not the root of all evil.
Many people think that being poor is a virtue because the Bible says that money is evil.
But that’s not what the Bible says. It’s close to what the Bible says. But close only counts in horse shoes, hand grenades and nuclear weapons. When we’re talking about the Bible, “close” often completely twists the meaning.
Here is the actual verse that people are referring to.
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.— 1 Timothy 6:10
As you can see, money is not the root of all evil. The Bible actually says that the love of money is the root of all evil.
Money is Neutral
Like many things, money itself is neither good nor evil. It is neutral.
What people do with money can be good or it can be evil, although much that is done with money doesn’t fall on either extreme.
As human beings we have this natural tendency to want to avoid personal responsibility by blaming the objects that people use to do bad things when the real issue is in our own hearts.
For example, many people see strictly limiting access to guns as a good thing. However the truth is that guns don’t murder people. People murder people, and guns are one of the weapons they use to commit those murders.
Eliminating guns would not eliminate murder. People were being murdered in the middle ages long before guns even existed. Even if we were able to find a way to go back to the middle ages before guns existed, people will still find ways to commit murder without guns.
As with guns and murder, the issue of money and evil is really about the human heart. It’s not about the object.
We see that even better when we put that verse back in the context of the what Paul was writing to Timothy.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 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. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.— 1 Timothy 6:9-11
That word “desire” in verse 9 is talking about a longing or a craving to be rich. Paul is talking about priorities here.
We will quickly get into trouble when we prioritize getting rich above other things in our lives. And that’s what the Bible means when it says the love of money is the root of all evil.
It should be obvious that when we prioritize acquiring money above God we’ll get into trouble. In fact, when we prioritize anything above God there will be problems for us. The way Jesus explained it is that when we prioritize God first everything else will be provided for us.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. — Matthew 6:33
So then, putting the pursuit of riches above other things will cause problems for us too. That’s exactly what Paul is saying in 1 Timothy.
Removing the Love of Money
So if money itself is not the issue, how do we remove the love of money from our lives?
The answer is simple, though often times it may not be very easy. Here’s how we do it.
To remove the love of money from our lives simply make the choice to always prioritize relationships with other people over financial gain.
Even though it is a simple thing, it won’t always be easy to choose relationships over financial gain. However God honors that choice.
For example, if you remember in Genesis 13 Abraham and Lot had both grown so wealthy that the land they were on wasn’t able to support the herds of both of them. Their employees were starting to get into fights about the limited resources that were available.
Abraham decided that the best answer was for him and Lot to part ways. And even though Abraham had the right to choose the best land for himself because he was Lot’s uncle he deferred to Lot and let him choose which way to go. Lot selfishly chose the more desirable land and headed off in that direction.
Abraham chose his relationship with Lot over the financial gain of the best resources. Contrast that with Lot who chose to prioritize his own financial gain and in the process ended up on Sodom.
In the end Abraham was blessed by God and grew far wealthier than he was when he and Lot parted ways. However Lot didn’t fare so well. He lost everything when he barely escaped the destruction of Sodom with his life.
We will do well to make Abraham’s choice and prioritize relationships over financial gain. By doing so we will remove the love of money from our lives.