There are needs an individual should meet in order to live a comfortable life and this was a concept Abrham Maslow decided to tackle in creating his hierarchy of needs. His hierarchy of needs focuses on what is required to feel self-fulfilled, psychologically stable, and sufficient to meet the basics one can build their foundation on such as safety needs like security, where finances and money can play a key role.
That is why it is natural for individuals to strive towards discovering jobs for a stable income in order to provide for oneself, or their family and friends, and why an influx or lack of cash may lead to variations in an individual’s focus, mood, and ambition in life.
But are thoughts of money necessarily bad to contemplate on? What constitutes the line drawn of feeling content to just greedy? What is the Bible’s perspective on money?
Is Money the Root of All Evil?
There are many instances where the Bible mentions the concept of people’s attitudes towards money or money in general as seen in related terms such as talents, treasures of gold, riches, and the like, but it’s important to understand the context given to recognize the overall perspective the Bible wants to convey.
For starters, utilizing money and having thoughts of money is good if done in moderation and for the sake of meeting basic needs we need for our safety and health. It is not necessarily wrong to purchase items that one has been saving up through work in order either. The caveat in this is blinding one’s eyes to thinking money is the only thing needed and worth investing in compared to other important aspects of life from family, personal health, and even God, especially if there’s already enough money to be stable.
Money is merely a means of currency which is why it is not innately evil, but as seen in 1 Timothy 6: 9-10, it is the love of money that’s the root of all kinds of evil. This love instigates excessive and compulsive desires which is greed, and this greed can branch to unhealthy thoughts, words, and actions in order to find any opportunity to keep acquiring money while never being satisfied. God teaches the concept of contentment when it comes to money since it is indeed a necessity to survive in this life today, but once it becomes something you fill in your heart and allow it to grow, it becomes a concern for corruption and sin.
How Love for Money is Evil
As seen in Matthew 6:19-24, having deep desires for money and hence greed is unhealthy to store up within our hearts. If all that is contained within one’s heart is money, there is no space to fill it with other priorities previously mentioned such as family, friends, God, health, etc… despite the potential for one to say they still matter. That is why the verses mention how at the end of the day, one can’t serve two masters which is God or money, but that it can only be one.
Jesus preaches about this too as seen in Matthew 19:16-30 as one example because a rich young man asked him how to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. It was a clear want the young man had and he continued to state how he’s even kept the laws but in Jesus mentioning giving his possessions to the poor, the young man left sad. It can be seen through this example that although there was a want for Heaven, when love for money and possessions take over and one is too attached to these and unable to let go, at the end of the day, what was chosen was wealth versus God.
Love for money should not grow for that is evil, but the usage of money should be wise and for the sake of healthy sustainability which is not wrong.
Throughout the Old Testament, the Physical Israelites offered the first fruits of their crop and their livestock to God. This was in accordance with God’s Law during that time. In Leviticus 27:30, the Lord says, “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Today, it is a little different. We don’t work to produce crops or livestock, we have jobs and work for money. So instead of offering grain or animals, we offer our money. But the heart and intention behind it is the same: tt is a way for Christians to recognize that what we have is not our own, but everything belongs to the Creator.
Though a question arises – how much are we supposed to tithe? From ten percent of our earnings to giving all we have, many have their own opinions as to what amount of money is a good enough amount to offer to the church. The word “tithe” translates to “one tenth” however there are some beliefs that question where that tenth comes from: your net income, base income, etc.
However, the teachings about money begin to change in the New Testament through Jesus’ ministry. There are several popular verses and stories where Jesus discusses money. First, we can take a look at Mark 4:41-44, which is a short passage about a widow offering only a few cents to the temple, while many others offered more because they were wealthy. Upon seeing this, Jesus says, “This poor woman has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all have out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” These are verses that many Christians use to support the belief that one needs to give all they have to the church. In these verses, Jesus states it is not necessarily based on how much you tithe to the church, but rather it is the heart the tithing is coming from that matters.
Does It Matter If I'm Rich or Poor According to the Bible?
There is another popular teaching from Jesus regarding money found in Matthew 19. This is when Jesus meets a rich man. The rich young man approaches Jesus and asks how he can attain eternal life. Jesus lets the man know he needs to obey the commandments found in the Old Testament, and the man states he has kept the commandments of God. In response to this, Jesus says, “‘If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man did not want to give up his wealth, and left instead.
Because of this, Jesus proclaimed, “‘I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” Often, Jesus is taken literally; many think that being physically rich will make it difficult for one to enter heaven. So, is Jesus saying the rich man’s physical wealth is going to keep him from entering heaven?
But the Bible also specifies that it is not money that is the root of all evil, but the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). The following verses in 1 Timothy also command a believer to flee from such evil, and 1 Timothy 6:6 states, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” The Bible commands us to be content with what we have. As we see, the Bible’s teaching surrounding money is more about the heart behind the offering rather than the offering itself. It is also not about one’s own wealth, but rather the greed one may have.
It is indeed important to take care of the needs an individual should have and financial security is one that shouldn’t be neglected. Managing this money is important to do because if one has enough take care of what needs to be done, but then suddenly fixates on always wanting more, then problems arise.
In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, riches are temporary and give temporary satisfaction. The more an individual wants despite being in a state of financial stability, the more desires take control but always working for what’s temporary isn’t the bigger picture.
God wants people to understand that more than just the wealth and riches of life, there’s something eternal to fixate our eyes on and it’s the spiritual riches that God can provide such as Heaven, eternal life, and a world of no suffering.
That is why in examining what is contained within our heart. There should be a balance of what is filled and amongst the spaces for reaching the needs that are necessary, God should still be in the picture so that in this way, more than just love for money, one can be rich in the words and good works God can help inspire.