Friday, August 20, 2010


1 Timothy 6:10 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.

10 ῥίζα γὰρ πάντων τῶν κακῶν ἐστιν ἡ φιλαργυρία, ἧς τινες ὀρεγόμενοι ἀπεπλανήθησαν ἀπὸ τῆς πίστεως καὶ ἑαυτοὺς περιέπειραν ὀδύναις πολλαῖς.

This may be one of the most misquoted verses in all of Scripture, right next to the verses that don't exist like, "Cleanliness is next to godliness" or "Heaven helps those who help themselves."  The word φιλαργυρία only appears here in the New Testament.  You have to look to the Apocrypha to find it in the Old Testament (4Ma 1:26).  The lexicons say that it means "love of money" or "avarice."  The problem is that the verse is sometimes quoted "Money is the root of all evil."  But that's not what it says, is it?

There are two extremes that we need to be careful about as we look at this verse.  First, there is the permissive side that takes it as a license to be as rich as possible.  As long as we don't "love" money we're fine, right?  This is tough to defend given all the commands about taking care of the less fortunate among us.  Clearly God does not want for us to just amass as much wealth as we are able to.  Or, as a pastor of mine once said, "Get all you can, can all you get, so you can sit on your can."  If we keep reading 1 Timothy 6 we see that Paul has different treasures in mind.

But then we also need to be careful not to fall into the other extreme.  Folks may read this and couple it with Jesus' commands in the Beatitudes to say that there is virtue in poverty.  I don't think that's what he's getting at here either.  There is nothing particularly noble about poverty and I'm sure most poor folks would agree.

Here in America we have more wealth than just about anywhere else in the world.  Even those in poverty live better than most folks in the world.  According to the Global Rich List, my salary puts me in the top 0.84% of income in the world.  Looking at it the other way, I make more money than 99.16% of the people in the world. And I'm hardly fabulously wealthy by American standards.  We think of rich as anyone who makes more money than we do.  

So what do we do with this?  Find some worthwhile mercy ministries and contribute.  Give faithfully at your church.  Give more and live on less.  We sponsor a child through World Vision for $35/month.  Can you live without one time eating out each month so that an orphan could be fed, clothed, and educated?  I am certainly not calling anyone to a life of poverty, but I do want to exhort you to think about how you live and how you may be able to help out.  We're pretty wealthy in this country whether we realize it or not.

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