How young were you when you first learned that famous verse about money? Whether or not you were raised in Sunday School, almost every culture recognizes some version of this biblical maxim:
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” (1 Timothy 6:10, ESV, emphasis mine)
I struggled with this theology for a while; it doesn’t seem accurate. When you look at the full range of all the evils in the world and the damage that different sins cause, it looks as if there should be a list of things more evil than loving money.
To understand why loving money is so potentially evil, it’s essential to read the verse in its full context and then unpack the spiritual dynamics surrounding it.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:6-10)
There are three reasons why loving money is indeed a root of all kinds of evils: contentment, identity, and worship.
(To give further definition and clarity, the love of money is not fundamentally a behavioral problem, like overspending; the love of money is a heart problem)
1. The love of money is a contentment problem.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Discontentment is the soil in which the love of money grows. Discontentment seems like an inconsequential sin because it merely feels like “wishing” we had more. But at the root level, the unsatisfied person lacks humility. They think of themselves more highly than they ought (Romans 12:3).
2. The love of money is an identity problem.
“For we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”
Paul echoes Ecclesiastes 3:20: “All are from the dust, and to dust all return.” I don’t think many Christians genuinely believe in #YOLO (“you only live once”), but many of us forget who we are, who God is, what this life is about, and the eternity that is to come. This identity problem opens the door to a way of living that is a vat of all kinds of evil—one dominated by the pleasures, possessions, and experiences of the moment.
3. The love of money is a worship problem.
“But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”
Ultimately the love of money is about worship—offering our desires, adoration, and service that we were meant to give to God alone to something that he created (Romans 1:25). Would you not agree that living for the desires of self rather than desiring God is at the core of all kinds of evil?
So not only is it accurate, but it’s broader and more profound than we tend to realize. The love of money is not a little thing; it is a portal to all kinds of evil because it connects us to foundational, life-shaping issues of the heart.
But Christ won’t leave us to ourselves. His grace will expose, convict, forgive, and empower us again and again. By grace, we will take one more step toward becoming thankful and satisfied people who love our Savior more than money.
Dr. Paul David Tripp is a pastor, event speaker, and a best-selling and award-winning author. With more than 30 books and video series on Christian living, Paul’s driving passion is to connect the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.