The Love of Money is The Root of All Evil

The Love of Money is The Root of All Evil October 12, 2011

What words come to mind when you think of this phrase: The love of money is the root of all evil.  Greed?  Corruption? Vanity?  What about when I simply say the word money? Do those descriptors still come to mind or do you think of ways that money can be useful – payment for hard work, tool for doing good, a transfer of value.

The truth is that money in itself isn’t evil.  The phrase “money is the root of all evil” is a misinterpretation of the scripture in 1 Timothy 6:10.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Paul was explaining to Timothy that pursuing wealth and ignoring contentment is a recipe for disaster.  He goes on to tell Timothy that trusting in money is unreliable, a truth that we can still relate to today.  But it seems so obvious, right?  Of course we don’t ever think that we trust money more than we trust God – that sounds absurd.  But here’s Paul, training another leader in the church, sharing how the love of money has turned even the most knowledgeable teachers into corrupt pursuers of money.  Timothy needed the warning just as much as we need the warning because the love of money can affect every one of us.

Money Vs. The Love of Money – Which one is evil?

Money isn’t any more evil than a car or fire is evil.  Let me explain:

  • Car accidents claimed 32,708 deaths in 2010.
  • House fires claimed 2,640 deaths in 2010.

Cars and fire aren’t evil in and of themselves.  I haven’t found anyone who believes that all cars are evil because they cause accidents, or that fire is evil because it can hurt people.  The reasons behind the car accidents and house fires may be caused lack of judgment, poor safety precautions, or pure accident.  The point is that a lot of things can be misused and cause tragedy, but they’re not evil in their very nature.

Money in itself is not evil.  Paul even tells Timothy to encourage people to use their money to do good things (1 Timothy 6:18).  Cars and fires are used every day to do very good things – the same is true about money.  The problem comes when we start to love money.

The Love Of Money

How we view, pursue, treat, use, and think of money will help us to understand if we love money.  But what does it mean to love money?

First, think about what it means to love someone.

  • You make them a priority in your life.
  • You would do anything for them.
  • You’d go out of your way for that person.
  • You trust in them, and rely on them for comfort and support.

Loving money doesn’t just mean that you’re a wealthy miser who hoards riches away in a mansion on a hill.  It simply means that you make it a priority in your life to pursue wealth.  It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, or in between – putting your trust in money and looking for fulfillment in worldly wealth means that you have a love for money.

When Paul says that love of money is the root of all evil, he wasn’t kidding.  A few verses earlier, Paul shared about people who used their knowledge of scriptures as a way to become wealthy – similar to a modern day prosperity gospel evangelist.  Paul was showing how even the godliest of people could become corrupt when they make money their god.

So How Do We Keep From Loving Money?

I like how Chuck Bentley addresses the issue in his book The Root of Riches.  He introduces what he calls the Me Trees and He Trees. 

Me Trees love money and can often have these characteristics:

  • They run after things. (Matthew 6:31-32)
  • They are greedy for money. (1 Peter 5:2)
  • They are eager to get rich.  (I Timothy 6:9)
  • They think godliness is a means to financial gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
  • They place their hope and security in wealth. (1 Timothy 6:17)
  • They lose all contentment. (Hebrews 13:5)

A He Tree has roots founded in God’s Word and becomes transformed from someone who loves money into someone who loves God more than anything.  Characteristics of a He Tree are:

  • They believe in God’s Word. (Psalm 1:1)
  • They believe it’s more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
  • They believe in serving God only. (Matthew 6:24)
  • They realize they are small compared to God. (Luke 14:11)
  • They are faithful with the small things. (Luke 16:11)
  • They believe in eternal rewards. (Luke 18:29-30)

The Me Tree / He Tree characteristics challenge us to think about the phrase The love of money is the root of all evil.  It causes us to really look at our roots and ask the tough question – do we put money above everything else in our lives?

I would love to hear your thoughts.  What do you think Paul was saying when he told Timothy that the love of money is the root of all evil?

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  • Candiss

    Well said! It isn’t evil to work hard and be wise with money! “The problem comes when we start to love money!”

  • Great contrast between “money” and “loving money”. So many people don’t know the difference. I appreciate the Me Trees and He Trees from The Root of Riches. Another reminder that I need to read that book!

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  • Tim

    @ Candiss – I absolutely agree!

    @ Joe – I really enjoyed the book. Chuck did a great job with it.

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  • If money is the root of all evil then greed is the seed. This article basically explains this phrase. The love of money is the root of all evil not money in itself. Putting more trust in money and pursuing wealth than your faith is when the evil comes to play. Hence, GREED, one of the 7 deadly sins.

  • I loved what you said about not trusting in money but placing our trust in God. It’s hard not to want more money, because a certain security is found in having extra in the bank, but as Christians, we have a constant Provider. It’s so important not to strive to increase our wealth, but instead to strive to grow in our relationship with God. I really enjoyed your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

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  • daisy

    it’s absolutely of money can make us embezzle,swindle,got to war and even colonize other countries to control their resources

  • Alan Gallivan

    I believe this is the wrong verse to understand. The key to understanding this passage is to start from 1 Timothy 6:8-9 and continue into all of verse 10, which says, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

    The understanding of loving money relates to not being content with food and clothing. The love of money relates to wanting more than the basics of life–more than food and clothing (you know, like pretty much all of us Americans want more than the basics of food and clothing, clean water, basic shelter, basic healthcare, add whatever other basic you want and there will be other things and other items money buys that we want and choose to get). It is the rest of the expenditures that we make that shows that we love what money can buy us, whether the next candy bar or ice cream cone, the next vain entertainment, the next best model of vehicle, the next cosmetic, the next best kitchen tool, the next best hobby, the next best junket, and jacket, and soft drink, and exercise machine, and time-saver, and camera, and mobile device, and Ebay item)–I am only trying to show how extensive our little extras add up.

    Obviously the way money is used is the key issue, but money itself makes available a heavy scale of opportunities for misuse, by nature of its liquidity. The grain you might have otherwise harvested, while it too could be misused in gambling, spoiling, or hording, cannot as easily be exchanged for all of those other vices. So, money is not necessarily as neutral as we wish it would be. In addition, the efficient size and transfer-ability of money enables those who would horde or otherwise misuse it to do so. It is easier for the rich to get richer and the poor poorer when the weight of the store of value itself is paper rather than food or cotton.

    Let’s get beyond the elementary issue and start addressing the deeper power contained within the tool of money.

    Is an atomic bomb neutral? I believe the fact that the atomic bomb was made is unfortunate at best, evil at worst. The same could be said of the tool of money, which enables people to more easily destroy more lives.

  • Ikuku Ese Martins

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.May God bless you.

  • Ikuku Ese Martins

    May d grace of God be With you.Amen


    What an objective way of explaining misconstrued scripture! Thanks.

  • Rambo Ruiz

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful info I too believe that it is the LOVE of MONEY that is the root of evil and if you may I want to add that it is ALSO the LACK of MONEY that is causing evil in this world.

  • Rich Ahlgrim

    I believe to fully understand this scripture, one must first understand what money is. Money in itself is not a ‘thing’ but a concept, defined as the means of exchange and a representation of wealth. Since money is not a thing, it is a non-thing or a non-entity. To say that one ‘loves money’ is also to say that they love a non-entity. More simply put the love of money is the love of nothing. When one loves nothing then hate grows in its place.

    Money is not a dollar, nor a yen, or a ruble, although all those things are money. Money is, the means of exchange, by which a society creates to facilitate trade. What is being traded is not money but value, for a service or a good. Wanting a service or a good is not evil just as wanting to provide service or good is not evil, just as expecting to receive fair value (as set by the laws of economics) is not evil.

    Thus money as a measure of wealth is accumulated most (other than by theft and fraud) by those who provide the most value to their community. This is why doctors and dentists usually make more than teachers or gas station attendants, and thus are able to accumulate more wealth. Does this wealth make the doctor or dentist evil? No. Why is our society then now demonizing the wealthy then today? Because too many in our nation have turned away from God’s word and fallen for the lies of men and women who are greedy for power and money. They promise to take care of the people, using ‘other peoples money’ (Taxes) to buy their votes and to keep them in power, all the while stealing and defrauding those self same people of their own wealth.

    As to Allen Gallivan,

    The atom bomb is no more evil than a tree, an airplane, or a car. Today, cars have killed a multitude of more people than all the atom bombs used to date.

    Good and evil are concepts, not things. Good and evil are about right and wrong, about intentions and consequences. To declare an ‘thing’ evil is wrong because like money, evil is a concept not a thing. A person can be evil, but he/she is not evil because they are a person but because of their actions, words, and deeds!

  • T. Anderson

    I am a firm believer in God’s Word and I love the Lord and aim to please Him Daily! Now my thing is as I read this text and ask the Spirit to lead me into all truth is to Love anything or anyone above God is the root of evil. Paul was speaking of a people who was putting their trust in money above God, because of their love for it. But Paul also spoke of being content in any state that he was in and the reason for Paul’s contentment was regardless of where he was in life he never lost focus on his Love and trust for God. My Love for anything or anyone other than God can be the root of evil deeds if I place them above My creator but it is my love for people and things that attract me to them and them to me. Loving money does not make a person evil but Loving it to the point of making it your god does! God is a jealous God and we should not have any other gods before him!