The Love of Money Really Is the Root of All Evil
If you’ve grown up in the church, you’ve likely heard that “the love of money is the root of all evil” in one form or another. I’ve heard that phrase all my life, and actually found myself not wanting to believe it when I was younger. It was something I hoped wasn’t actually true — something the Bible got wrong.
But more recently, I’ve seen just how true that statement is. It really hit me when we were watching a documentary series on Netflix called The Traffickers. In the series, journalist Nelufar Hedayat travels the globe to expose a myriad of black markets, from rhino horns and gold to international adoption and human trafficking. It is eye-opening, devastating and thought-provoking to see the inner workings of these sketchy operations — all of which, I realized, are driven by an intense desire for money. The people in charge of these profitable “businesses” are willing to sacrifice the wellbeing of innocent people in exchange for their own monetary gain. While all topics are disheartening, the sex trafficking episode felt like the lowest of the low. Vulnerable people — sometimes even children — are traded like cattle and stripped of their dignity, all in the name of profit. But each issue on the series had the love of money at the root.
This is not to say that money itself is evil. In fact, money can be (and is!) used for a lot of good in the world. After all, it’s how any charity is able to help people in need. It can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and protect the homeless from rain. And of course, it’s what we all use to function in modern society.
Like many things (like social media, for example), money can be used for both good and bad, but I would submit that the negative usage of money can be a bit more damaging than trolling on Instagram might be.
My example of trafficking and black markets is a bit extreme, so let’s take it a bit closer to home. Because I think we can all agree that that type of money-loving is wrong. But what if we obsess over the latest car? The best designer labels in our closet? The largest home on the block? That’s a bit sneakier. Again, these things are not inherently evil in and of themselves. But the infatuation with them — that’s another story.
I know a lot of people who use the money they were given for so much good. And I say “the money they were given” on purpose, because I believe we do not deserve anything we have and that each financial blessing is a gift we are entrusted with. That’s the beauty of this all. We have the power to essentially vote for what we believe in with the money we have, whether that’s through actual charitable donations or through the everyday purchases we make.
If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I am very passionate about ethical clothing and knowing the source of where my clothing comes from. That may seem like a small issue compared to larger social epidemics, but I am so passionate about it for a couple of reasons. 1) Many factory workers endure horrific working conditions and unfair pay so we can buy t-shirts for $5. Again, this goes back to the ruthless hunt for profit! And the livelihood of real people is at stake. And 2) It’s something that each of us can get involved in, as clothing is something we need to wear every single day. As I mentioned, we have the opportunity to “vote” for what we believe in by intentionally choosing who and what gets our money. And shopping ethically does not mean dropping $200 on a shirt! It can even mean a $2 shirt from the thrift store.
I also think careful stewardship of the money we have is important, which is why I’m pretty passionate about saving money, budgeting, investing, etc. There’s a fine line between managing money wisely and obsessing over it.
I have more thoughts on money that I can’t quite articulate on (electronic) paper — but this is a good start to the conversation. Please let me know if this resonated with you, you agree (or disagree!), or you have any more insight to add.
I’ll also leave you with this. I looked up 1 Timothy 6:10 (the “love of money is the root of all evil” verse) to understand the context in which it was written and found that it is accompanied by what might just be my new favorite set of verses in the Bible — especially since I just declared “contentment” as my word for 2019.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 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. 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.” — 1 Timothy 6:6–10