For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many arrows. - I Timothy 6:10 (KJV)
The scripture above has been brutally butchered and bastardized over the years and has led to many great distortions and incorrect conclusions among many Christians. These distortions and wrongful conclusions have negatively impacted Christians and their attitudes toward money and have adversely affected their behavior toward the accumulation of wealth. The butchery and bastardization of I Timothy 6:10 takes place when the “love of money is the root of all evil” topic is wrongfully separated from the concept of covetousness.
The above scripture, in Timothy, when taken in its complete context, implies that it is not the love of our own money that is the root of all evil, but the love of other people’s money. Covetousness is commonly defined as an inordinate desire for money or things we don’t own. Obviously, money and things we don’t own belong to someone else. We can’t covet money or property we’ve legitimately acquired through moral means. We can only covet that which belongs to someone else. Covetousness implies that the item, money, or property in question is in the rightful possession of someone else and implies also there may be a temptation, on the part of the one coveting, to acquire the property of another through immoral means.
Covetousness also implies a lack of contentment or gratitude for what we already have (our capacity to earn) and a basic ignorance of the natural law that dictates we can’t have something for nothing. Another way of stating this natural law is that there is no free lunch. Genesis 3:19 supports the concept of there being no free lunch when it states, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return to the ground…”
Sadly, church leaders, pastors, and preachers are often the worst offenders when it comes to taking I Timothy 6:10 out of context and may be the worst violators of the scripture’s truer meaning. They convince many of their flock that money is evil while it is residing in their member’s wallets but that the very same money is miraculously sanctified when it hits the church collection plate. Will the real coveters please stand up? These church leaders appear to be coveting the money of their flock while hypocritically preaching on money’s evil nature. Are they not deceiving their flocks and shearing them in much the same manner the profane Jewish religious leaders (Pharisees) did in early New Testament times?
No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. – Luke 16:13-15 (KJV)
So, should Christians be good little sheep and stand ready to receive their shearing? Not hardly. While Christians were often given the descriptive attributes of sheep, they were also admonished to recognize the voice of their Shepherd and to be wary of human wolves (Pharisees, false prophets) dressed in sheep skins who were pretending to be something they weren’t. Whether modern day preachers and pastors have ill intent or are simply ignorant on this matter, we will let God be the judge. In the meantime, however, we will be more inclined to take responsibility for our own charitable giving rather than using religious institutions serving as wealth redistribution centers. Their bloated administrative budgets and staff absorb much of the charitable giving and far too few dollars ever reach those truly in need compared to the ratio of money going to glitzy buildings, massive bus fleets, and the Six Flags Over Jesus theme park atmosphere.
Covetousness is truly the root of all evil and biblical examples of covetousness can be traced as far back as Eve, in the Garden of Eden, who was tempted, by Satan, to eat of the fruit from the tree that would give her knowledge of good and evil and make her equal to the gods. Eve, therefore, coveted knowledge and angelic esteem that was not hers to possess.
If one erroneously believes that the love of money is the root of all evil must they not first define what money really is?
So, what is money? Is it not simply a tool of exchange? Is money not a representative unit of one’s labor or energy used to produce items or services others desire and voluntarily pay for with money they, themselves, have also earned?
If one erroneously believes that the love of money is the root of all evil but correctly recognizes that the root of money, itself, is simply representative of one’s labor, would they not be forced to accept the uncomfortable conclusion that the love of labor is ultimately the root of all evil? If the love of labor is the root of all evil, by what means did labor originate? Did not God establish the natural law of labor shortly after the Garden of Eden incident? Should we not love and respect the natural laws God has instituted? How apropos was it that God selected a form of punishment (no free lunches) so precisely suited to the covetousness and crime exhibited in the Garden of Eden?
The value of money is not determined by government decree, central banks, or by those who exist off the labor of others. The value of money is determined by those who produce items and services others value and who willingly and voluntarily exchange it by trading value-4-value absent the tools of guilt (fraud) or fear (force).
Which comes first in the natural order of things; money, or looting and mooching?
Looting is the forceful taking or plundering of products or services, or their monetary equivalent. Looting is, therefore, the forceful taking or plundering of another’s labor or energy. Mooching is the acquisition of products or services, or their monetary equivalent, by preying on producers in society through the use of guilt (fraud) and separating them from the fruits of their labor. Money attracts looters and moochers. The looters and moochers produce nothing but immorality and therefore lend nothing to the value of money.
I Timothy 6:10 is not describing those who possess money gained through the use of their own mental faculties and labor, but instead is describing those looters and moochers who desire and/or possess something they have not earned. In other words, those who live off the backs of others are the ones guilty of loving money at the expense of morality (coveting).
By what logic can we damn our money without damning our own existence? We exist by our ceaseless labor and money is just a representation of that labor. If we damn our money, we, by necessary inference, damn our labor. If we damn our labor, we, by necessary inference, damn our lives because to live is to labor. How can we damn our own lives or its moral derivatives without damning our Creator?
Money (honestly earned) is therefore the root of all good because it represents a form of indirect exchange we can use to exchange our labor for the labor of others. Trading value-4-value honors the principle of the golden rule in which we treat others as we would wish to be treated. Money, as previously defined, exemplifies and supports the golden rule.
Looters and moochers who come by money through immoral means (fraud, theft, robbery, political and/or legislative) are the ones who denigrate money and dilute its value. Those who do so are society’s counterfeiters and hitchhikers.
Article credits: The Bible and Atlas Shrugged (Francisco D’Antonio’s Money Speech)