The root of all evil?


I’ve been meaning to get around to writing this post for a while, but it kept slipping my mind, until I saw Trent’s Tweet (?) on Twitter:

“A wise man should have money in his head, but not in his heart.” – Jonathan Swift

I haven’t heard that specific saying before, but I have heard that “money is the root of all evil” …

… ooh, hasn’t this stopped many a person from living their Life’s Purpose?!

Well, if money is an evil, it’s a necessary evil – as even our resident chaplain (ret.) would be quick to tell you as he heads to his own “number of $4,000,000 by 20019”!

You see, the correct biblical reference is from Timothy 6:9-11 and, it actually says:

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.

The “love of money”, not money itself … and, that to me, sounds a whole lot like what Jonathan Swift was trying to say …

… what say you?

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18 thoughts on “The root of all evil?

  1. This is a topic that has gotten on my nerves all of my life. Growing up in a poor, trailer-life type environment, I was always surrounded by poor-minded people it seemed. Notice I said “poor” minded and not “broke”. Broke means you don’t have any money, “poor” is a state of mind. Think about that for a moment, there is a difference. πŸ˜‰

    I frequently found myself in the company of many ‘poor’ southern people who always scolded those ‘rich people’ or ‘high falootin'(spelling?) rich people! They always oozed the sentiment that if someone was rich, they must have inherited it, won the lottery, stole it from others(insert any non-earned method of choice) and most felt that ‘money was the root of all evil’ and that there was some sort of Christian ‘nobility’ in being poor or broke and that ‘if God blessed you to be rich, or wanted you to be rich you would, and that was the only way to be rich!’

    Personally I couldn’t understand how they didn’t interpret those scriptures that they read to mean “God doesn’t make you rich nor poor, he gives you free will and wants you to be the BEST you, that you could possibly be, including becoming extremely wealthy and prosperous”. You can help a lot more people, churches, schools, etc… if you are wealthy, as apposed to living paycheck to paycheck, uninspired!

  2. I think the reason that the passage is misquoted is that it is more appealing to the “poor” minded Scott mentioned. If money is inherently evil, then it’s a good thing to be broke right?

    There are people and companies that lie, cheat and steal and some of them make a lot of money doing it. However, I suspect they end up poorer in the long run. Illegal activity risks everything, think about Enron or Bernie Madoff. Even just cheating your customers makes it harder for your business in the long term: You always need to get new customers because you cheated your old customers.

    I hope your readers don’t share these ideas- but just in case you get some random traffic:

    How many people can you help if you were broke? How many people could you help if you had $7 million in the bank? Do churches and charities collect money because they need a source of evil?

    If you consider these questions and still believe that money is evil- I am willing to take that burden from you. I accept checks, money orders and PayPal ;-).

    -Rick Francis

  3. It’s more like Greed is evil, not having money. It’s just when you become so greedy that you overlook morals and integrity to have it

  4. Actually let’s go back to the first of the Ten Commandments located in Exodus 20:3 “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The indication is that there is to be “nothing”, family, fame or fortune that stands between us and a proper relationship with God. Is money evil”? No. Is the “love” of money a “sin”? Yes. Why? Because it consumes our passion for God which by the way can also be done by loving family and/or possessions more than God and you don’t have to have money to do that. If we are more passionate about anything than we are passionate about God it is a sin. Sin being described as “anything that is contrary to the will of God”.

    The reason my “Life Purpose” is “To Obey God in Everything I Do” is to remind me to keep everything in it’s proper order. Is it alright to persue wealth? Sure. Does it make life more difficult? Of course it does. Is it alright to marry? Sure, but it also complicated your life. And the list goes on.

    Adrian I don’t see money as a “necessary evil” but rather just an object of exchange that we have come to use.

    The key is to use every aspect of your life to point people to God, if nothing else by example demonstrating to others how to allow God to be in control of family, fame and yes even fortune.

    There is a song entitled “If I can Help Somebody” that says:

    “If I can help somebody as I pass along
    If I can cheer somebody with a word or song,
    If I can show somebody he is traveling wrong,
    then my living shall not be in vain.”

    But we must remember that our walk must match our talk.

    Before God we all stand on an equal playing field, rich or poor.

  5. No doubt it is the LOVE of money that is evil, and not money itself. Adrian is right that these beliefs cause people to not get to serve their life’s purpose.

    A great book about the self limiting beliefs we pick up from our parents and environment is “Secrets of the millionaire mind” by T. Harv Eker Changing the way you think about money can make a big difference in your life.

    P.S.- Lee I didn’t realize you changed your date to 20019! That’s one way to lower your compound annual growth rate!

  6. Ryan – It’s all in how you juggle the numbers wise guy.
    It’s supposed to be 2019, I figure a zero here and zero there won’t make that much different. πŸ™‚

  7. Ryan, that’s a great book by T. Harv Eker. He is one of my favorite authors and i’ve watched and listened to countless hours of his seminars.

  8. Loving Money I believe is a common thing, but Loving it to the point of crime against others, thats the evil part …

    I think most everyone Loves money, its the earning it that usually is the unlovable part.(with some exceptions)!!!!

  9. Great comments, guys! Thanks, Lee. And, I’m shipping all that ‘evil money’ to you right now, Rick πŸ˜‰

    I might add that I am commenting ‘late’ because I had a problem accessing my WordPress accounts and couldn’t seem to get anybody from their Support team to respond to my support requests … it was a very LONG weekend πŸ™ Anyway, I seem to be back now!


  10. Hey Adrian,
    Great to see your perspective on this and the fact that you took the trouble to go back and find the correct quote from the bible.
    Another scripture which seems to go with this perspective of the fact that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil is:
    Matthew 6 : 24 “You can not be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money”
    So you can see that this supports your argument that it is all about the LOVE and very little to do with the money

  11. People of faith need to be a little more critical, though, than the average investor.

    For instance, some commenters above feel they can do more good if they are richer, and so becoming richer must be just fine.

    But say you decide to invest in mineral extraction companies like, say, BHP Billiton and their new open-cast aluminium mine in Africa will flood a massive area with no recompense for hundreds of local inhabitants, then the fact that you’ve become richer and donate some of that to charity or to your church is still problematic.

    So although you may do good things with the profits you make, sometimes its important to look a little more closely at precisely how the company was able to make that money for you.

    I’m also reminded of children in Turkey sitting in poorly ventilated sheds with solvent-laden adhesives for 15 hours a day sticking the soles onto Nike trainers for 10 cents a day.

    And mothers in the Carribean sewing sweat-shirts with Mickey Mouse on the front for 15 cents a shirt, when they are sold at retail in the States for $70, and then when they asked to be paid 20 cents a shirt to be able to more easily feed their children, they were told: “Shut up, or we fire you”.

    So simply doing good with the money you make sometimes isn’t enough.


  12. Carl Jung said: “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism”.

    I’d put both an excessive love for money and an obession with God/religion/morality in there too.

  13. Andee – with reference to the Matthew 6:24 scripture the key word is “serve”. It is possible to “serve” God and make a lot of money, our churches are full of people who are doing just that. It’s all a matter of what is most important and what has first place in your heart.

  14. Lee – While I have some sympathy for the theory of being able to serve God and make a lot of money, the parable of the rich young ruler makes it clear that this is not necessarily an easy thing to do.
    The facts are that it is possible to live a physical life in this world without God but it is very difficult to live life without money.
    Think about how many decisions get made in daily life that are dependent on money. I know that in our family money plays a significant part of how decisions are made.
    I also believe that Jesus would not have made the statement in Matthew if there was not an issue in his day. I still think that the issue is really about dependance which runs to the heart of serving.
    Maybe a better way to think about this scripture is this:
    Are you more dependant on God or Money?
    I know that for a large part of my life I was more dependant on money than God even though I was a regular church goer, a person who tithed and also gave money away to support less fortunate people.

  15. People of faith, especially those who are keen to become wealthy, may have the problems of side-stepping the “evils of money” by addressing how they respond to this statement:

    “There are things you can buy, but the question is, should you buy them?”

    Some people have criticised the business partner of Bill Gates who bought a yacht for $100 million dollars – is that ever justifiable?

    Or consider the rich man who travels in his car to go and buy gold taps for his bathroom on a freezing cold day, and passes lots of poor children playing in the streets with no coats on.

    And the bright young things who are repeatedly photographed in London night-clubs: people like Paris Hilton, who is set to inherit billions, yes billions, of dollars.

    Is that outrageous, when so many have so little, or does she deserve it because of the business skills of her papa?

    Would it be so terrible if that sum was reduced to, say, $1 million per year for 100 years and the balance was used to help the unfortunate? Would she really personally notice that it was no longer billions in her bank? What figure would you say is reasonable for her to retain?

    My sensitivity to this issue was raised by the Reith Lectures, an annual event on BBC Radio 4 where a major speaker talks about some significant social issue.

    Only one of the four programmes has been broadcast so far, but it was Professor Michael Sandel of Harvard who posed that question at the top of this comment, and he will get around to answering it in this series called: “Markets and Morals”.

    A most appropriate subject after the recent catastrophic collapse. He usefully examines “What is the role of the concerned citizen in all this?” which is very apposite to this particular post.

    Audio and video at:

    Although it may be difficult to determine the most appropriate Biblical reference to quote, perhaps it would be more helpful to consider the societal impacts of wealth, and those who hoard it to themselves irrespective of the clear needs of others.

    Would you buy gold taps? Would you be upset that other people thought you shouldn’t? You cannot be wealthy in isolation – to my mind it brings with it obligations to the rest of society; as the great US philanthropists of the past said: “I got rich so I could give it away”.

    Does that raise any difficult issues, especially in our reaction to those who have the cash but not the generous spirit?


  16. Andee – I totally agree with you it’s like we are both singing the same song just different verses. This has been a most interesting post, thanks for joining us.

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