For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. 1 Timothy 6:10a NIV
Many of us grew up hearing the admonition that money is the root of all evil, but that is not really what scripture teaches us. Money, in and of itself, is neither evil nor good; it is only what happens with money once it is in our hands that gives it qualities of either good or evil. Money can be many things, depending on how we relate to it.
Money can be a tool, and it is a necessary tool for simply maintaining our daily lives. We need money to put a roof over our heads so that we are safe, warm and dry. Money provides food to keep us alive so that we can continue to function and clothes us so that we can function in a socially acceptable manner. And it takes money to keep us healthy so that we can continue to lead productive, meaningful lives.
Shared money is an even more valuable tool, one that can change the world  in many ways. By sharing our money, we can feed hungry children who have never eaten a full meal. We can create sources of clean water for people who die in great numbers from drinking water that is polluted and poisoned with virulent diseases. Sharing our money can educate children, as well as adults, so that they have a fighting chance at escaping the poverty that chokes the life out of much of the world. Most importantly, sharing our money can bring the message of God’s love and salvation to a world that is dying in the dark because they haven’t gotten that good news.
Closer to home, sharing our money can help a neighbor who is in financial straits. It can keep the doors open on our churches, where the community can gather to find the genuine, eternal wealth that is available to them in the kingdom of God. Sharing our money can create and maintain programs that give young people the chance to spend their time in healthy socialization opportunities instead of being drawn into harmful relationships and the dangerous activities that they can lead to. Money in the right hands is one of the most powerful tools God has for letting his love for us all shine into the bleakest corners of our communities and of the whole world, but money can be more than a tool.
Money can be a toy that can bring pleasure to our lives in many ways. It can bring comfort into our daily experience, so that we are not constantly consumed with simply staying alive. Money can provide us with enjoyable activities as individuals and as families and groups of friends . It can make it possible for us to experience the wonders that God and man both have created in our own country and around the world, and it can enable us to share those delights with others.
Money can also be a test. Lacking the funds necessary to maintain reasonable lives can severely test our faith that our Heavenly Father will see to it that we have all that we truly need, even when that doesn’t include all that we want. Needing to earn money can test our ingenuity, our determination and even our humility when we find it necessary to generate work for ourselves or we have to take a job that feels like it is several steps back from where we rightfully could be in our employment. Being financially unable to do and have many of the things we’d like to do and have for ourselves, as well as for sharing with others, can test our attitudes and our willingness to live our lives realistically, if not ideally, without falling headlong into resentment and rage over what we lack.
Ironically, having an abundance of money can be an even more challenging test of the persons that we truly are. When we can afford to do anything we want to do and to have anything we want to have, we are faced with the choice of whether we use our money solely to benefit ourselves or we use it to make the world a better place for others, as well as for ourselves. Having significant wealth can open our eyes to the opportunities available to reach out to others who need our help, or it can blind us to anything and everything beyond our own ever-escalating desires for possessions, prestige and power, thereby testing to the very limit the true nature of our character as human beings.
What money, in and of itself, is not and never can be is treasure. Far too many people have died of bitter old age, surrounded by the opulence generated by their wealth but hardened in their hearts by malignant desires that can never be adequately fulfilled for more money and more of the possessions, power and prestige attached to it. Some wealthy people, on the other hand, spend their whole lives in such fear of losing their money that they live at near poverty levels of functioning, comforted and sustained only by the number of digits that appear after the dollar signs on their bank statements. They hold on so tight to the money they have that they don’t even benefit themselves, much less other people that they could easily help.
Those denizens of wealth and all of us who want to be like them are the people Paul is talking about when he writes to Timothy about the problems associated with money. He goes on to teach this young pastor that “some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The watered down version of Paul’s teaching, the false adage that ‘money is the root of all evil’, misses his point altogether. It is not money itself, but the love of money that is the problem.
To love money, to put our trust in it to provide for us what we need and want is, at the very least, an insult to our Father, who is the only rightful recipient of our trust . When we fail to trust in God, we lose out on the opportunity to develop an ever-deepening relationship with him as he proves, over and over again, that he truly will provide for our needs and he really won’t ever leave us or forsake us. Putting all our trust in money also leaves us perpetually on the brink of disaster, since the least little thing, whether a misstep of our own or some factor beyond our control, can easily wipe out our wealth in an instant, leaving us with nothing at all, not even the comfort of leaning on the Father that we could have trusted all along to protect our well being.
Paul also did not say that money, or even the love of it, is the root of all evil. There are, sadly, a great many forms of evil at work in the world all around us that have nothing at all to do with money. What he said is that the love of money can take root in our hearts and our minds so that we become blinded by the possessions, prestige and power attached to it and we make decisions that take us farther and farther away from God’s will and out of his plan for our lives.
This can be seen especially clearly in people who have lived much of their life with little or no money available to them, then they suddenly have a great deal of it in their hands, whether as the result of their own endeavors or from some other source beyond them. In far too many of those situations, a person who was once kind and gentle and giving quickly becomes someone who is greedy for more money and the material payoffs it brings.
By trusting the money that has landed in their hands, they readily slide into deceitful behavior and dishonest decision making in their drive to get still more money, and they often leave a trail of emotional destruction behind them as they lose the qualities of character that had formed the basis of the relationships they once maintained. As the root of their love of money takes hold and spreads throughout their life experience, it grows into an ever expanding cloud of darkness that controls their mind, their heart and even their spirit as they go about making their daily decisions and their life plans.
That is the warning that Paul has provided for us, and it is a warning that we would be wise to heed, lest we find ourselves placing our trust in money instead of in our Father’s loving provision, where we are well protected from the many kinds of evil waiting to trap us in its destruction.
This Guest post was written by Nanci Flynn. Read more about Nanci below and check out her book The Children of Propria’s House 
Nanci Haigler Flynn was born in 1946 in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and grew up in North Carolina and the Shenandoah Valley of western Virginia, where she and her younger sister lived in an orphanage for three years after their mother died in 1958. She is the mother of two sons in their 40s who are married to lovely daughters of her heart and the grandmother of three precious little girls and a little boy due in June, 2012, all of whom have encouraged and supported her as she has pursued her education, her writing, and her online ministries. Ms. Flynn followed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and Communication from Illinois Benedictine College (now Benedictine University) with five years of independent graduate study conducted in the Greater Chicago Area and in Berkeley, California, in the field of human communication behavior. As a legal support professional, she served banking, financial and commercial litigation attorneys as a legal secretary and litigation assistant, although her legal oriented activities in retirement focus largely on consumer, family and child advocacy matters. Ms. Flynn is also active in her Baptist church’s Walk With Me ministry, a mentoring program for at-risk youth and young single mothers and the delight of her life is her friendship with many young women who are the granddaughters of her heart. A voice for Christ online in mental health, Christian and news chat rooms and discussion boards, Ms. Flynn strives to facilitate clear communication as a means of effectively exchanging data, ideas and opinions on the internet, and to reflect the love our Father has for everyone she encounters in person or online.
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