We looked at this scripture just recently, considering, what we might call, the Spirit’s secondary purpose. Going back over my notes, I decided to approach it a second time considering the Lord’s primary purpose. And that is in spite of the fact that Baptists are infamous for preaching about money. I knew a family of Campbellites down in Deming, New Mexico, who refused to visit our services. They said that all the Baptist preachers they had ever heard had two problems – First, they were constantly filling their sermons with crocodile tears. And secondly they preached too much about money. I will see if I can conjure up a few tears as I preach about money this evening.
And then again, maybe you’ll cry after you hear about the Baptist preacher named Don Holesapple? A woman called him and asked him to perform a funeral service for her pet cat, Homer. Holesapple explained that this was a little out his arena, and he referred her to the local Presbyterian. Three hours later the woman called back, in tears because no one would perform the funeral. The Presbyterian recommended the Methodist, who recommended somebody else, who recommended some other preacher. The lady told the Baptist that she was willing to pay the willing preacher $1,000 for the service. It only took Holesapple a moment to mull the situation over – after which he replied – “Well, why didn’t you tell me that Homer was a Baptist cat?” We Baptists have some just and unjust reputations, but I have fought hard to avoid them all. Yet, breaking with my own personal tradition this evening, I am going to preach about money.
I do so because we are all susceptible to temptations in this area. And with each successive generation the problems of poverty and wealth come up again & then again. But, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” And frankly, money is a major ingredient in worldliness. I ask with the Lord Jesus, “Whose image and superscription is on that dollar bill?” It is definitely not the face of Christ Jesus. Yes, it is the Lord who gives or permits wealth, and He can also take it away. And so, as Jesus said unto the rich young ruler – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” But Paul reinforces the exhortation by adding, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”
This sinister esteem comes in several forms – It can be purely and simply, a love of money – the feel of it; the power of it; the presence of it. It can be the amassing of silver and gold, like some 18th century Dickens character. There is Scrooge counting his silver piece, by the light of a single candle. He is wearing a pair of those gloves with the fingers cut out, so he can feel each piece. This love of money can be a delight in the growing decimals on a ledger. It can be found in the numbers on a report from Charles Schwab or the NASDAQ. But more common is a love for the things that money can buy. These sinners don’t have or keep a lot of money, but they lust for it so that they can spend it. Their greed is measured not by bank accounts and the tax returns, but with boats, jet skis, and snow-mobiles. They might never have more than a couple of dollars to their name, but their love for money is gargantuan. In other words, one does not have to be rich to need the message of this verse. In the fact, the poor may need to hear it more often than do the rich.
These two aspects of sin then veer off into dozens of others, any of which can be seriously dangerous. There is the man who will do anything to get more money – to the point of stealing or murdering to get it. And then there are the Ananias and Sapphiras of the world and the church, who are brought to deception. There are people like Achan who are willing to endanger whole nations for a little more wealth. And then comes the pride of ownership and the lust of wishfulship.
This text lends itself to a simple three point outline – “the love of money” is the root of all evil. And “the love of money” is a straying of faith and it is the conception of sorrow.
The Love of money is the ROOT of all EVIL.
The word “evil” in this verse means exactly what you would expect it to mean – “wickedness.” But don’t jump to the conclusion that this means the root to every wickedness is a love of money. There are thousands of sins that have nothing to do with money, greed or a lust for wealth. However, the lust for wealth and the love of money can be the cause of just about any evil. Tens of thousands of men have been murdered for the love of money. Thousands homes have been destroyed because the wife loved money. How much adultery is committed in this world because of the love of money? That is the meaning of the verse.
“Evil” refers to “wickedness,” but that is not the only way in which it can be used. What would you say is Jehovah’s relationship to evil? As infinitely holy, we’d naturally say that He hates evil and judges evil. But Isaiah 45:7 says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” The word can be used to simply speak of something disastrous – or perhaps judgmental. The Love of money is both wicked AND a disaster, but we’ll get to that in our last point.
And then there is the word “root” – “the love of money is the ROOT of all wickedness.” What does a root do? Think about a carrot, one of the roots that we eat. That root is the means by which the green part of the carrot draws moisture & nourishment out of the soil. It is the way in which the plant feeds. The love of money is one way in which evil is nourished and sustained. The illegal drug industry is nourished by “the love of money,” as are most other industries. Secondly, a root is the means of anchoring that plant to the soil. Have you ever tried to pull a full-grown carrot out of dry soil? If you don’t dig around that plant, all you’ll do is pull the top off, and the root will stay. Once “the love of money” is firmly planted in the heart it may take a 25 horse rottotiller to get it out. Beware from the very outset, don’t let it get established.
These are concepts that we can understand, and upon a little investigation we can see something else here. The word translated “root” is the Greek “rhiza” (hrid’-zah). I knew there was a reason why they forced me to study botany when my love was zoology. The Greek word “rhiza” has given us the botanical word “rhizome.” A rhizome is a special root, through which the plant spreads underground and propagates new plants. You might say that a rhizome is a horizontal kind of root, more than a vertical root. And its purpose is not to feed, but to spread.
“The love of money is the root of all evil,” because it can spread and infect other areas of a person’s life. Here is a man who is infected with the disease. And his daughter or wife comes to him complaining of some physical problems. The symptoms indicate that this could be a serious disease, but then again perhaps not. The man wants his money for something other than doctor bills – they may not be necessary anyway. Ignore the problem and maybe it will go away. In this case, the man’s love of money spreads to the neglect of his family. Or maybe that love of money makes him neglect to repair a problem in his car and someone dies in an accident which could have been prevented. Or it keeps him from tithing as he ought, and Biblical evangelism suffers. Every once in a while, his preacher talks about tithing and it bothers the man a little. His love of money may be the means used by the Devil to take the fella out of church. If he is not in church then he won’t feel guilty about stealing the Lord’s money. “The Love of money is the root of all evil.”
And it is also the STRAYING of FAITH.
I assume that Paul was thinking only of Christians as he wrote to his student, Timothy. I assume that the people Paul was thinking about had faith in the Lord Jesus for salvation. But they should also have been taught to trust the Lord to meet their day-to-day needs. “Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name….” “Give us this day our daily bread, we look to you and you alone.” “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want because he takes care of me… He maketh me to lie down in green pastures… He prepareth a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.”
But along comes the love of money, and in the process, we loose our trust in the Lord. At the very least we cast aside the realization of His care of our needs. It is not that faith disappears, but it is overshadowed by another kind of trust – a self trust. There is a confusing oxymoron printed right on the back of the Federal Reserve Note – “In God we trust.” Ha! Why trust in God when you’ve got plenty of green-backs, fins and ten spots? Not even the good people of God are completely free from trusting in that piece of paper. You have had some diagnostic tests run to find out what is troubling your son. After $2,000 in bills, you find out that your insurance doesn’t want to pay for those tests. What comes first? Trying to figure out how to pay that off, or asking the Lord to meet need? If the economy of the U.S. was destroyed, and that is a reasonable possibility, could you trust God? Some trust in federal reserve notes while others trust in silver coins. But how many really trust in Jehovah? If your trust is not in the Lord, then how close are you to the love and trust of money?
And by the way, don’t forget what the Lord and his apostle added to their condemnation of covetousness. “Take heed and beware of covetousness for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” “Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness which is idolatry.” “The love of money is the root of all evil” – and the straying of faith.
It is also the CONCEPTION and birth of a great deal of SORROW.
A hundred fifty years ago there was a plague of skin irritating rashes among bank employees. It was especially common among the ladies who were required to handle great quantities of cash. Those who counted up all the one’s and fives and tens at the end of the day. Some had a simple rash, but some were much more severely affected – to the very point of death. It took a dedicated study by a team of doctors to determine that arsenic was the problem. The special paper that was then being used for printing money was being processed with arsenic. Those who handled great quantities of the deadly paper, were quite literally poisoning themselves. Since that time, perhaps the paper has been made differently, but there is still a poison in money. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
What are some varieties of sorrow? One is the sorrow of DISAPPOINTMENT. If the testimony of the very wealthy means anything, the accumulation of great wealth is not very satisfying. Many have said that once they got their millions, those millions didn’t satisfy their souls. And someone else has said that money will buy a fine dog, but only love will make him wag his tail. And then there are the things people sacrifice along way, while they are trying to make their millions. How many fathers have wasted their years with little children at home. One day they come home with their pockets filled with cash, but there isn’t anyone there meet them. And how many people have loved money to the extent that they destroyed their health to get it.
I read of a little girl who went to visit her wealthy aunt. The old lady gave her a silver dollar, and the little girl loved it. As she was playing around the house with all of its valuable antiques and collectibles, she dropped her dollar into a very expensive vase. Quickly she stuck her hand through the narrow neck of the vase and grabbed her coin. But with her hand in a fist, she couldn’t get it back out through the neck. It never occurred to her to relax her hand and get help tipping and emptying the vase. Then in her struggles eventually the vase was broken. The love of money has ten thousand ways of eventually disappointing us.
Another type of sorrow comes with the DECEPTION that the love of money brings. We are told that money is the way to be happy; but that in fact is a royal lie. Some people justify their love of money by saying that they want it for their families. They deceive themselves that their lust for cash is on behalf of their loved ones. One day a certain old, rich, miserable man visited his rabbi, talking about how shallow his life had become. The rabbi took him to a window and asked him what he saw: it was a park with women and children. Then he took him to a mirror and asked him what he saw: The window was made of glass, and the mirror was glass, but the mirror was also coated with silver. No sooner was the silver added and the man ceased to see others, but only himself.
And finally, another type of sorrow comes with the DISAPPEARANCE of money. Thousands of fortunes were lost in a matter of hours during the crash of 1929. And that misfortune has been repeated thousands of times since. I know people who thought they would make a lot of money by buying the perfect piece of property. They planned to keep it only a couple of years, or to sell off their older property. I have known people paying on three mortgages, and getting into almost suicidal troubles because of their greed. The money just disappeared. There are more money-eating moths than any other kind. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.” Listen to the inspired warning of the man of God.