Have you heard the phrase, “money is the root of all evil?”
If so, it may have caused you to think twice about asking for that promotion, pursuing that side hustle, or investing in the latest asset craze.
Alternatively, maybe you’ve chosen not to share your financial goals or career successes on social media or with friends and family in real life because you’re worried what others might think of your ambitions.
It’s time to stop sabotaging your success. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being wealthy or pursuing financial success if you obtain your money ethically and for the right reasons.
Here’s what the phrase “money is the root of all evil” really means.
Who Said “Money Is The Root of All Evil” in The Bible?
The phrase “money is the root of all evil” comes from 1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV) in the Bible, where the apostle Paul writes: “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 sorrows.”
In this passage, Paul is warning his friend and mentee Timothy about the dangers that can follow when people choose money over God.
He highlights this in the previous Bible verse, where he writes: “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” (1 Timothy 6:9 NIV).
Just like today, some people in the early church were more concerned with amassing a large fortune or an excellent reputation for themselves than they were with following God. In this passage, Paul said Timothy should pursue true contentment in Jesus Christ instead.
Why Is Money The Root of All Evil?
Thankfully, these Bible verses are not stating that being rich is inherently wrong or immoral. Money is not the root of all evil.
If you read 1 Timothy 6:10 (KJV) closely, you’ll notice that this Scripture doesn’t say, “money is the root of all evil,” but rather, “the love of money is the root of all evil.”
This is a crucial distinction.
Money isn’t the problem. The problem occurs when we prioritize gaining wealth over our relationship with God. This is true whether we’re talking about money or about anything else we might prioritize over God, including our relationships, hobbies, or health.
The Bible doesn’t tell us we can’t be rich, only that we need to seek the kingdom of God first.
Furthermore, many other Bible translations translate this passage a bit differently.
In the New King James Version (NKJV), the New International Version (NIV), and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the translators interpret the phrase as “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”
This one small word choice makes a huge difference!
While the love of money can cause evil, money itself is not the root of all evil.
What Is The Root of All Evil?
While the reckless pursuit of wealth can lead to increased evil in the world, as some do step on or take advantage of others to get ahead, the Bible never tells us that money alone is the sole cause of all evil.
Instead, Romans 5:1 tells us, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.”
Money isn’t the root of all evil. Sin is.
As human beings with free will, we all have a choice each day: to do the right thing or the wrong thing. Unfortunately, none of us are perfect. We all sin at times. And our sins have consequences, both for ourselves and for others.
Money can play a part in this, but it is not the only cause of evil in the world.
Does The Bible Say It Is a Sin To Be Rich?
Because of 1 Timothy 6:10, some believe it is a sin for Christians to be rich or to seek to build wealth intentionally.
Matthew 6:24 also seems to support this idea. It says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Similarly, Matthew 19:24 tells us, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
However, we must be careful not to take a few verses out of their original context. The Bible has much more to say about wealth than these few verses alone.
Positive Examples of Wealth in The Bible
When we take the time to study the Bible as a whole (both the Old Testament and the New), we find numerous positive examples of wealth mentioned throughout the Scriptures.
For example, many well-known Biblical characters had great wealth. Abraham, Joseph, Job, King David, King Solomon, and even the apostle Matthew himself were all very wealthy and very devout believers.
The Bible even tells us that these monetary blessings were given directly by God.
Job 42:10 tells us, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”
Similarly, 1 Kings 3:1-15 tell us that God gave Solomon great riches he had not asked for: “Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.”
Bible Verses That Show Money Is Not The Root of All Evil
While the Bible does say that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” Scripture is clear that increased wealth can also be a sign of God’s blessing or favor.
- “The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.” – 1 Samuel 2:7
- “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.” – Proverbs 10:22
- “For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.” – Deuteronomy 15:6
- “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17
- “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8
These verses don’t imply that those in poverty have done anything wrong or are less righteous in any way, only that God may choose to bless some financially for reasons we might not ever fully know or understand.
Furthermore, the Bible also includes verses encouraging believers to enjoy their God-given wealth.
- “Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.” – Deuteronomy 14:26
- “Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God.” – Ecclesiastes 5:19
It’s okay to enjoy the good gifts God has given us! We can be thankful for what we have while simultaneously looking for ways to increase our wealth and share with others.
How Pursuing Wealth Can Be Morally Good
Rather than looking at money as the root of all evil, it is more accurate to view money as a morally-neutral tool. Just as a hammer or fork can be used both for good or for destruction, money can be used in the same way.
For Christians who tithe (i.e., donate ten percent of their income to their local church or other charities), the more money they make, the more money they can give. Because tithing is based on a percentage of earned income, any increase in income should automatically result in an increase in giving.
Plus, giving generously is easier when you aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.
According to an article on PhilanthropyRoundTable.org, “Religious practice is the behavioral variable most consistently associated with generous giving,” and “half of all American personal philanthropy and half of all volunteering [is] directly religious in character.”
In other words, people of faith are significantly more likely to donate to causes (both religious and secular) than those who don’t consider themselves religious.
Rather than contributing to self-indulgence and greed, the pursuit of additional wealth can be a way to serve God, practice good stewardship, and take social responsibility; three concepts Jesus said all believers should seek to practice as a way to love God and others.
Biblical Christianity and wealth are not at odds. The Bible says it is okay to earn money, save money, give money, and even enjoy money–as long as you don’t love money more than God.
This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.
Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author, speaker, and founder of EquippingGodlyWomen.com, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go "all in" in faith and family. You can learn more about Brittany’s latest books, Fall in Love with God’s Word and Follow God’s Will, on her website.