The Root of All Evil: How Loving Money Warps Your Heart
Don’t let money take a place in your heart that was meant for God.
It’s perhaps the most misquoted verse in the Bible: People love to go around saying that “money is the root of all evil.” But the Bible doesn’t actually say that.
But what it does say on the subject is perhaps even more important.
Money wields a lot of power in our society. If we don’t handle it right, money can make slaves of us. And if we let money infest our hearts, it can lead us to do some pretty horrific things. If we don’t intentionally develop the right attitudes toward money, searching for riches can lead us down some very dark roads.
That doesn’t mean, however, that money is all evil. In fact, God has given us resources to manage for Him, and He wants to see us succeed financially. So how do we succeed with money in a way that is not evil?
First, we need to take a close look at what God says about money. Then, we need to take a close look at our own hearts.
What the Bible Says About the Root of All Evil
Let’s return to that misquoted verse about the root of all evil, I Timothy 6:9-11. Here’s what it actually says (with my added emphasis):
9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 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.
11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
Notice the difference between the misquoted version of this passage and what it actually says. Although people say that money is the root of all evil, they’re missing a key phrase. What the Bible actually says is that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” You may think I’m splitting hairs, but it’s actually an important difference.
When we become enchanted by money, it can lead us do some dark destinations.
God doesn’t have anything against money. Money, after all, is just an instrument of exchange. It has no intrinsic moral attributes. What God does have a problem with is the love of money. God wants us to be good managers of the money He gives us. But when we become enchanted by money, it can lead us do some dark destinations.
A Special Place in Your Heart
Humans were created to love. But God intended for that love to be directed toward Him and toward other people. We should love our spouses, children, families and friends. God even expects us to show love to strangers. But He never created us to love money.
The things we love take a special place in our hearts. And when we love something inappropriate, it takes a place in our hearts that it is not supposed to have. There it slowly begins to corrupt us.
We always give preference and priority to the things that we love. If we love money, we will end up giving it an inappropriate priority in our lives.
So what does it mean to love money? It means to give money a place in your heart that rightfully belongs to God. Do you worship money? Trust in your money? Desire money above everything else?
Our worship, trust and desire belong to God. When money takes that place in our hearts, though, it displaces God. And that’s when the love of money starts to lead us to evil.
Loving Money Can Harm Your Relationships
Love of money can manifest in our relationships with other people as well. Does money take a place in your heart that should belong to your spouse or children? Does money come first in your priorities? Do you spend more time pursuing money than you do building relationships with them? If so, then you may love money more than you love your family.
You can’t trust money to tell you right from wrong.
God wants to guide us throughout our lives. But when we give money a place that should belong to God, we are led more by our greed than by His voice. Instead of having God as our moral compass, money becomes our conscience. And you can’t trust money to tell you right from wrong.
As you walk the road to financial freedom, make sure that money doesn’t take an inappropriate place in your heart. Follow the advice at the end of the passage above: “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”
If we give money a place in our hearts that God deserves, we begin walking down a road that destroys us and the people around us. When we master money, though, we make it serve us, and we can use it to make the world a better place.
Photo by Liz West. Used under Creative Commons License.