Is money the root of all evil?
When Christians talk about money, there's immediately an awkwardness that settles in. There's lots of stereotypes, cultural expectations, and bad theology when it comes to this topic. A phrase that almost every Christian assumes a straightforward meaning to is this: money is the root of all evil.
If you've been around the Bible for a while, you might quickly correct that phrase and say, "the love of money is the root of all evil."
But what does this saying actually mean, and what does the Bible say?
1 Timothy 6:10 in the Amplified Bible says, "For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows."
Don't make money an idol
When we read this passage in the amplified Bible, it adds a bit more color to the passage we often hear misquoted in Christian circles. Money itself isn't evil or wrong. Like anything, it can become an idol and be used for evil, but it can also be redeemed and used for good.
The real issue with money is the same issue we could have with anything: idolatry.
Good things can become idols in our lives when they are given a place of worship and when we follow them instead of following God. In Christian culture today, I can't help but notice the amount of worship and devotion that goes to the nuclear family. Is it a good thing? Absolutely. Can it become an idol? Yep.
Jonah 2:8 says, “Those who regard and follow worthless idols turn away from their [living source of] mercy and lovingkindness."
When money becomes an idol, you follow it instead of God.
Maybe you jump at any job offer that brings a salary increase before considering God's heart for your current workplace, maybe you support unethical businesses for your desire to have more stuff, or maybe you continue to upgrade to a bigger home for your family before sowing into the house of God.
These things don't sound too evil, but they are putting money before God and we should increase our awareness of this and change our behaviors accordingly.
Money is a tool for worship
If you've spent a lot of time in Christian circles, you've probably heard someone say, "money is one the most talked about things in the Bible!" Usually this is followed by a sermon on giving. Some might roll their eyes at this, but there's an important point here.
Money is actually a tool for worship.
One way I continually see people miss out on the goodness of God is through their wallets. Giving to our local churches allows us to take on responsibility for what is happening in God's house. We aren't just spectators, we are part-owners. We're investors.
When people invest in a start-up, they care deeply about how it's being run and where the money goes. This is the same level of ownership we should have towards where our money goes. I even think of it as a spiritual act when I buy a friends book, purchase from their small business, or give a small gift.
All of these things are investments in the kingdom, they can be an act of worship, and a decided proclamation to sow into what someone is doing or creating.
Some will wander, but it doesn't have to be you!
When we look back at 1 Timothy 6:10 we read the second part of the verse, "some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows."
The first part grabs our attention, but the second part shows us exactly what will happen. Some will wander. Some people will long for money, give it their attention and worship, and follow it instead of God. By doing so, they will wander away from God's heart and have "many sorrows." This happens with any idol.
But this doesn't have to be your story.
Some will wander, but some won't. To stay near to God's heart for your life, and for your money, I think it's as simple as Psalm 37:5: "Commit your way to the Lord." A life fully committed to God gives Him control over everything, including our finances. We will know Him as provider (one of His many names) and recognize that everything we are given is His.
When money isn't an idol, it's an opportunity to encounter God.