by Rob Tims
First Timothy 6:10 is perhaps one of the most well-known and misunderstood Bible verses.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.”
I’m often tempted to blame money for my troubles with it, and at first glance, the Bible seems to affirm me. But a closer reading shows that I am the problem: the love of money … not money itself … is a root of all kinds of evil. And it’s not the one and only root of all kinds of evil; rather, it’s one of many. And it’s not the root of all evil, but the root of a variety of evils.
So, my love of money is one root of potentially all kinds of evil in my life.
I can think of many evils that a love of money might lead to. Things like cheating, fraud, perjury, theft, envy, and even murder come to mind. I don’t think Paul would disagree with any of those things, but he doesn’t mention them here. He mentions two others that we might otherwise cast aside.
1. First, a love for money can lead me to wander from my faith. It is simply not possible to pursue truth and money simultaneously. I must either renounce greed in my commitment to the faith, or I can make money my god and depart from the faith. I can’t be both greedy and content. I can’t worship both God and money. So if I choose money, I’m eventually guaranteed a departure from the faith.
2. Second, a love for money causes lots of pain points in my life. Interestingly, Paul does not elaborate on what these pain points might be, I can point to a few in my life. How about: worry, remorse, discontentment, debt, and anxiety … the list goes on and on. The passionate pursuit of money promises liberty but only brings captivity.
Driving up Interstate 65 every day, I see the billboard promoting the power ball lottery. Not too long ago, the amount was $1.2 billion. I called my dad and said, “I think I’m going to cave and finally buy a lottery ticket. $1.2 billion is too much to ignore.”
“Don’t bother,” he said. “You’ll never win, and besides, I’ve already bought enough for the family. You’ll get more than enough in your share.”
Knowing that, should my father win, I’d inherit more than I could responsibly live off of and give away, my love for instant wealth vanished. Ironically, that is actually the case for me as a believer. I will soon inherit all the riches of Christ and enjoy them eternally. Keeping that in mind is perhaps the best way to avoid loving money and the evils that love brings.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.