Everyone has heard the expression “money is the root of all evil” but what does it really mean? Different people have different opinions regarding this saying. However, many things point to the fact that money is not the root of all evil, despite what most people think.
Why Do People Say This?
The expression “money is the root of all evil” comes from the Bible; however, this is actually a misquote. The verse comes from the first chapter of Timothy in the New Testament and what is actually says is “the love of money is the root of all evil”, which is quite different.
Money is merely a medium of exchange; you exchange money for the goods and services you need. Money itself is not good or evil. The love of money, however, can be either good or evil. If you love money so much that it affects everything that you say and do, it can be very evil indeed. If it is your first priority in life, it can be evil.
It also depends on how you look at this issue and what you consider to be important aspects concerning whether or not money is at the center of all evil. Some of the reasons why many people think that money is not the root of all evil include the following:
- Greed still exists even if money doesn’t.
- Sometimes the lack of money can result in all forms of evil.
- Money can be used for good things such as donating to charity.
- Many evil deeds have nothing to do with money.
- Money is often an end product of a neutral act such as making an investment.
- In the beginning, money was simply a way to get goods and services.
- In these days, no one can live without money.
- There is no one “root” of evil; it is caused by many different things.
Clearly, money itself cannot produce evil. What money is used for, however, can. More importantly, the intentions behind the reasons why people are spending that money can certainly be evil. Intentions and the actual love of money cause far more evil than just money itself.
Is Capitalism to Blame?
At one time in history, people had no actual currency, so they bartered for everything they needed. They swapped chickens for a donkey and so forth. Currency just made those activities a lot easier. It was merely another way to buy and sell products and services.
The word “capitalism” has gotten a bad name in recent years but capitalism is merely a way for businesses to do some good for the public. It is only when the people running those businesses put making money above everything else that capitalism can run amok. Today it is those businesses that people often think of when they hear the word “capitalism”, which puts a negative spin on the word.
The original founder of capitalism, Adam Smith, clearly intended for business to consider people, planet, and profit equally, which obviously isn’t the case with many businesses today. Clearly, these business owners’ love of money takes precedence over everything else, which makes their intentions and their actions evil. This is one proof that money isn’t always the root of all evil.
There is good news, however. Nowadays there is a growing trend towards executives running their businesses more ethically. Indeed, people are coming out in droves to do business only with companies that share their personal values, especially when it comes to things such as the environment and the treatment of animals.
Clearly, new businesses are not shunning capitalism. They are merely viewing money as a way to better the world, not as an evil entity. This is a trend very much likely to continue into the 21st century.
Finding Ways to Justify Our Beliefs
Most people have heard the saying “money is the root of all evil” their entire lives. Whether people believe that or not, they can always find evidence to back up their belief. On both sides of this coin, there is evidence that our belief is the right one.
However, let’s look at a few facts before deciding which of these beliefs to hold onto.
- A lot of very wealthy people give a lot of their money to charity.
- If you suddenly won the lottery tomorrow, would you instantly become evil?
- Many people who think that money is evil never give to charity.
- People who think that money is evil often buy lottery tickets on a regular basis.
- Money can be used both for great things and for evil purposes.
Again, in the end, money is not inherently good or evil on its own. It is what people do with that money that can be one or the other. Many people, including Tony Robbins, have gained their enormous wealth by helping others. Many also donate huge amounts of their income to organizations that help others. These are but a few of the reasons why, in reality, money is not the root of all evil.
Being Used for Evil Is Not the Same as Being Evil
While money can be used for evil, money itself is not evil. Below are a few things to keep in mind when you’re trying to determine whether or not money is the root of all evil.
- If you do things for the sake of money, you are selling your soul, which is priceless.
- If money disappeared tomorrow, evil would still hang around forever.
- People can do terrible things to one another because of money, but it is their actions that are evil, not the money itself.
- The real root of all evil is human desire and greed.
Indeed, having a lot of money is not a bad thing per se, but when you get to the point where you need more and more of it to be happy, this can result in evil acts. Marital conflicts and even stress-related illnesses can result when people are driven by the need for more money.
Of course, the question of whether or not money is the root of all evil is usually answered subjectively. This means that each answer will be different and, of course, it is always going to depend on the person’s general belief in the statement and also his or her perceptions of money in general. This is why answering this question once and for all is likely impossible.
The Church and Money
Even though the Bible preaches that the love of money is the root of all evil in 1 Timothy 6, this does not mean that the church shuns money. In fact, this is not the case most of the time. Churches seem to be asking for money continuously, so the main question is why?
Does this mean that the church is not practicing what it preaches? If it asks for money every week during services, does this mean that it clearly loves money, which it claims to be against? Not necessarily. Let’s take a deeper look into churches and their relationship with money.
The reason why churches seem to “love” money but also need it can be summed up in one word — economics. Just like any other business, the church has bills to pay. These include not just electric and water bills but also salaries to pay since most preachers don’t do what they do for free. Most of the money the church takes in goes to pay these and many other expenses.
They also take in money to fund charitable work including feeding the poor, sending members around the world for missionary work and building homeless shelters. Simply put, the church needs money to exist and to do good works, and they get that money from their members.
Since the Old Testament requires church members to give, or tithe, 10% of their gross income to the church, this is where most of their money comes from. This money is given with good intentions, so the money itself is never evil. Another analogy can be found in the Bible regarding money not being evil in and of itself. It is the story of the golden calf in Exodus 32.
This golden calf wasn’t the evil part of the story. The evilness came from people who were worshipping the calf instead of worshipping God. The calf was an inanimate object that, the same as money, has no evil nor good in it.
It Is Okay to Think Big
Greed is usually the root of evil, not money itself. Money can, however, increase your motives for doing something. For example, if you are already a greedy person by nature, money may make you greedier. If you are naturally a very giving person, you will likely give more once you have more money. Money plus whatever you already are equals more of that one characteristic.
Going back to the church and its attitudes toward money, since 1 Timothy 6 is usually misquoted, many churchgoers believe that it is un-Christian to have a lot of money. Since that scripture clearly says that it is the love of money that is wrong, this is unnecessary and unfortunate.
One problem with this belief is that many people of faith believe it is necessary to keep themselves in the poor house; otherwise, they believe that they will not get into heaven. Again, this is unfortunate. There is simply no reason to deliberately be poor if you do not have to be. People of faith can have money, and it is what they do with that money that counts.
Simply put, there are righteous rich people and unrighteous rich people. Money may help you become more of what you already are and to think big instead of small, but if you are already a good, giving person, this is a fine thing. Because of concepts such as these, it is clear that money is not the root of all evil.
Other Thoughts on Money and Evil
Although there are people in power who try to take as much of the wealth as possible, these people are quite rare in reality. In fact, most business executives get rich because they are selling something, be it a product or a service, and other people want to buy it. If there was no one to purchase the product or service, the executives would be unable to make a lot of money.
Most people have two distinct qualities — empathy and competitiveness. It is the first trait that enables most people who get rich to share that money with others by making donations to charitable organizations. People want to win, but they don’t necessarily like seeing someone else lose. Rich people, for the most part, are no different than anyone else. They just have more:
In fact, when it comes to people with no empathy, usually called sociopaths, they in fact only make up about 4% of the population. And the rich have the same likelihood of being sociopaths as everyone else. Being rich does not make them more likely to be sociopaths, in other words.
In reality, the only reason why money has any value at all is that society has agreed that this is so. The same is true for gold, which some people now say that society should return to. Once money or gold becomes undesirable, the importance of each of these items would plummet drastically.
Why Do People Think That Money Is Evil?
Although most people can understand that money is not the root of all evil, there are still individuals who don’t believe this statement. Why? Once again, many people are determined not to change their minds on this subject and the people who believe that money is evil think so for a variety of reasons. These include:
- It gives people power and control.
- It can lead to dangerous vices.
- It gives you status and importance.
- It can become a god that you worship.
- It becomes a tool to install and embrace evil.
- It can cause people’s ideas of right and wrong to become blurred.
- It can make people become more deceitful and arrogant.
Of course, this isn’t true of all people with money. The above examples, however, do not seem to be entirely based on the love of money but rather on money itself. Is there a difference? Yes, there is, but it is a very subtle one, which is why many people still believe that money itself is the root of all evil.
Why Is the Love of Money Unhealthy?
The intense love of money makes people do things that they wouldn’t normally want to be a part of, including:
- Practicing deception
- Hoarding money at the expense of your family’s needs
- Participating in the black market
- Becoming dishonest in order to make more money
- Displaying intense greed
- Embracing more evil and antisocial habits
- Cheating other people, cheating on your tax returns, etc.
- Deteriorating morals and character
- Ignoring the human factor in everything
Does this happen to everyone with money? Of course not, but the way you were raised and your past experiences naturally affect the way that you feel about money. This, in turn, directly affects what you do when you have it and when you don’t.
More Reasons Why Money Does Not Necessarily Equal Evil
In summary, when you consider all of the facts, it becomes crystal clear that money is not the root of all evil because, in all likelihood, it is the love or obsession with money that is bad. There are many reasons why people believe this; they believe that the love of money:
- Makes people obsessive about it
- Causes family members to turn against one another
- Causes people to hoard money on a regular basis
- Causes people in authority to do horrible things to those under them
- Is one of the causes of war
- Causes people to consider it more important than anything else
- Will make you dissatisfied with the amount of money you currently have
- Can make people feel unfulfilled regardless of the size of their bank accounts
- Makes people put more emphasis on the final destination rather than the process itself
- Makes people do evil things in order to get the money they crave
It has also been proven that the percentage of unhappy rich people is no lower (or higher) than the percentage of unhappy middle-class people. It seems that happiness involves a lot of different aspects so people can be happy both with and without a lot of money in the bank.
A Few Final Thoughts
As this article proves (subjectively, of course) that it is not money itself that is the cause of evil but rather the love or obsession with money that causes evil behavior and acts to occur. A lot of components make up different people’s beliefs regarding this topic so in the end, all people can do is research it and come up with conclusions on their own.
It isn’t just the scripture in 1 Timothy 6 that makes people think about whether or not money increases the likelihood of evil. Both religious and non-religious people alike have been debating this issue for decades, and it is likely not to go away any time soon.