Is the Love of Money Really the Root of “ALL” Evil?

(by Huston Malande)

Is the love of money really the root of all evil? What does money have to do with a myriad sins that don’t seem to be motivated by financial gain? And how can a Buddhist monk live a life of self-sacrificial poverty, albeit sinfully, if the love of money is the root of all evil? Did the snake slip an envelope under the table? There was no money in Eden!

Grammar is of the essence in rightly understanding this statement from 1 Timothy 6:10. The ESV accurately translates it this way: “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”. The phrase “all kinds of” is an idiom which doesn’t mean “every single kind of”, but rather “many different kinds of”. Its use is similar to the way I may say “All sorts of people attend the Meaty Forum“. I clearly don’t mean that the head count at the event is 6 billion. The short answer to the opening question, therefore, is no.
That said, we cannot ignore the vast implications of the verse, for no other thing is pointed out by the Bible in the same way as (the love of which) being the singular root of all kinds of evil. Let’s go back to Eden. Why did Eve eat the fruit?
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6, ESV)
Why was she convinced to think this way? The cunning serpent managed to get under her skin with these words:
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5, ESV)

Eve was somehow convinced that God was keeping something good from her and her husband. In a perfect world, Eve was persuaded to want more. That is the heart of the matter: covetousness.

All this time Adam was standing there, aware that the serpent was lying but doing nothing to stop it. I imagine him sulking because the serpent was ignoring him, the head, and addressing his wife instead. Maybe he, for the first time, felt his ears heat up and his face go red as Eve took the fruit without asking him what he thought. Maybe he, already becoming twisted, at that point decided to let Eve go ahead and eat so he could see whether she would die. If she died, too bad for her. He still had 23 ribs left! If she lived, maybe the serpent was right after all and they’d both be wiser. He used her covetously.

She bit the fruit but didn’t die. So he bit it too. And thus sin entered the world. By covetousness.

We too must therefore guard our hearts against our inherited bent towards covetousness. Money is at the epicenter of this sin, for no one really cares about the design or texture or smell of a 1000 shillings note; we yearn for all the things we could possibly get with an unlimited supply of those. Money, like the fruit in the garden, is desirable for gaining earthly clout.

And just as God responded by cursing every sphere of the first couple’s lives with conditions and predispositions that would lead to suffering and perpetuated sin, all aspects of our own lives become vain when we covetously replace the all-satisfying God and his son Jesus with created things.

This is a preamble to an upcoming article on tithes. May our hearts be yielded to and despise not the scrutiny of God’s word, that by the working of his Spirit they may escape their own incomprehensible deceitfulness.


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