money is the root of all evil

The Love of Money and the Image of God

1 November 2021

4.8 MINS

It is commonly said that money is the root of all evil, but this is not strictly true. The love of money leads to all sorts of evil, including idolatry. But we can wield wealth in a way that brings glory to God.

In 2016, anti-gambling campaigners were angry at the Queensland Government’s decision to approve three new casino licences. It seemed the $8 billion casino in Cairns, the $7.5 billion casino and cruise ship proposal on the Gold Coast, and a third casino in Brisbane were all going ahead.

Hoping to benefit from the massive increase in the middle class in China, each casino would need a staggering 75,000 to 80,000 visitors a day. Although the casinos stated that their target customers were international tourists, past experience suggested that they would compete directly with the many existing community clubs for patrons. The large influx of electronic gaming machines was especially threatening to the community clubs.

At that time, the Queensland Government boasted that Queensland could have seven casinos within a decade. What does this say about our society?

A Root of All Kinds of Evil

Wealth in itself is not treated as evil in the Bible. Scripture does, however, warn against seeking wealth as an end in itself, especially when using deception, oppression, or the exploitation of men, women and children as a means of amassing it. Paul called “the love of money” – not money itself – “a root of all kinds of evil”. (1 Timothy 6:10).

The exploitation of children overseas to work in plantations so that we can eat chocolate is but one example of this.

Howard Dayton, who founded Crown Ministries in 1985, noted that “Jesus talked much about money. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses deal directly with the subject of money.”

Jesus had more to say about money and its use than He had to say about hell! Money is generally something that represents our life. We exchange money for parts of our life – our time and effort. What we do with it says a lot about who we are.

During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). About accumulating wealth, He declared, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Loving Your Neighbour With Money

Jesus also gave us what He called the two greatest commandments. He said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’.” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Indian social reformer Vishal Mangalwadi has written, “Our primary love must be for God and for our neighbour. We must judge every society by how it treats God’s image – people. Corruption abuses people. Materialistic consumerism feeds our greed and blinds our eyes. Instead of serving people, we try to squeeze out their wealth for ourselves.”

The second-century church father Justin Martyr speaks of the changes that Christ brought about in the believers of his time. He wrote, “We who once took pleasure in the means of increasing our wealth and property, now bring what we have into a common fund and share with everyone in need.”

Learning Generosity From God

Regarding being generous with our wealth, Paul directs our thoughts to God who “did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). In other words, God Himself is a generous giver!

As for Christians, Paul wrote that “God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

We read in 1 John 3:17, “If anyone has material possession and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” And so Australian theologian Charles Ringma believes that “in generosity and service we reflect something of the image of God.”

When Jesus encountered the rich young man who wanted to make sure he was going to heaven, He discerned that the love of money was the man’s problem.

At that point, we read that “Jesus looked at him and loved him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’” (Mark 10:21). But when the young man heard this, his face fell. “He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (Mark 10:22).

The Spiritual Stronghold of Mammon

We live in a materialistic society where many people serve money. Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Luke 16:13).

The word “Money” in the NIV is capitalised since it is a translation of the name of the false God Mammon. Jesus is therefore not just merely speaking of money as riches or wealth but of Mammon – a demonic principality.

It may seem strange and outdated to speak of evil demonic forces that still exist. But we have New Testament authority for this view: Paul told the Corinthians that demons lay behind the pagan gods (see 1 Corinthians 10:19-20). Their presence and power are demonstrated by the effects we see in our culture.

The love of money is, therefore, the worship of Mammon. The attributes of Mammon worship include covetousness and greed. These are described explicitly in the Bible as idolatry.

The Joy of Giving Generously

While it is not strictly true that “money is the root of all evil”, the writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’.” (Hebrews 13:5).

For Steve and Jane Pemberton, who are Aussie missionaries with Operation Mobilisation, giving is a way of life. Jane shared:

Our hearts are drawn to our treasure. When we give to God’s Kingdom, our hearts are drawn to the things of God, and we can only find real contentment and joy in the things of God. We can’t seek our joy in money. We won’t find it, and the money will control us. When we seek our joy in God, to learn to use this discipleship tool from Him wisely, it brings us incredible joy and fulfilment. Giving … has taught me this. The more generous I am, the richer I become.


Sovereign God, You are God who gives us everything we have and asks us to manage and use it for Your glory.

Forgive us for pushing You out of our lives by being so preoccupied with storing up wealth for ourselves. Help us to conquer greed and to honour You with our wealth (Proverbs 3:9). Deliver us from the deceitfulness of wealth and from enslavement to possessions and money.

Help us to choose eternal values over earthly treasures. Help us die to the love of money and cultivate a willingness and joy to share our wealth with others – especially the poor and needy – men, women and children made in Your image and precious to You.

In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Image by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash.

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