Is Money Good or Bad? Is Money the Root of all Evil?
Why are People who Misuse Wealth become Wealthier while some Good People continue in Poverty?
The material world follows its ways. When a person participates in the ways of the material world, the accompanying results occur. When we invest wisely, we receive returns; when we invest poorly, we lose. Whether the gains are used for good or for bad is based on the person.
Luke 16:1-9 New International Version (NIV)
The Shrewd Manager
Jesus told his disciples: “There was a rich man whose manager was accused of 1 wasting his possessions. So he called him in and asked him, ‘What is this I hear 2 about you? Give an account of your management, because you cannot be manager any longer.’ “The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking 3 away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg— I know 4 what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ “So he called in each one of his master’s debtors. He asked the first, ‘How 5 much do you owe my master?’ “ ‘Eight hundred gallons of olive oil,’ he replied. 6 “The manager told him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it four hundred.’ “Then he asked the second, ‘And how much do you owe?’ 7 “ ‘A thousand bushels of wheat,’ he replied. “He told him, ‘Take your bill and make it eight hundred.’ “The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted 8 shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends 9 for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
A steward’s livelihood partially came from adding an amount to the price of goods he sold for his employer; being no longer employed, he would not be there to collect this money. When he called the debtors in, he removed his increases to gain favor with the debtors. The thought is that they now “owed” him a future favor; favors he would need to collect since he was now unemployed. A shrewd move.
The same concept is expressed in
Matthew 10:16 New Language Translation (NLT)
Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.
The dishonest manager, who was not a good steward of the materiality which was entrusted to him, knew it would be beneficial for him to make friends of the debtors by reducing their total bill. The master recognized this as a shrewd maneuver; the dishonest manager would not be employed there to collect his add-ons, so he took the additional amount off to garner the friendship and favor of those individuals to help him during his time of unemployment; including, accepting him into their homes. Although commended by the master, the master did not take the dishonest steward back into his employment nor back into his home.
Jesus also recognizes the shrewd move. Even though someone may be dishonest, or act as a wolf, or a snake; certain ways produce certain results; in this account, giving something to someone as an act of friendship in order to benefit from the friendship in the future. As ‘someone walking in the light’, certain Earthly actions will also produce certain Earthly results. “People of the light” and being “harmless as doves” can include being wise, shrewd, and aware of the way the Earthly world works. The dishonest manager used his “worldly wealth” to gain friends and to be accepted in their homes when he becomes unemployed and homeless. Jesus suggests “people of the light” should also use their “worldly wealth” to help others, for the material wealth will stay here upon death while the “eternal wealth”, of following God by being good to one’s neighbor, will bring them into God’s home, His eternal dwelling, after their time here.
We walk with those who are dishonest, wolves, and snakes. Although the master does not want the manager who ‘wastes his possessions’ working for him, he still recognizes the shrewdness of the dishonest manager’s as a commendable attribute. The trait of being shrewd (which can be used in vice-full ways or in virtue-full ways) is an attribute Jesus is saying is also commendable for His followers.
In the days of the early Church, many disciples lived in community where everything was shared among the community.
Acts 4:34 New International Version (NIV)
that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
Many clergy in our day also live in community being supported by the donations of others. When Jesus sent out 72 disciples in Luke chapter 10, He instructed them to accept charity as a means of survival. This teaching was not given to everyone; rather, He instructed others to be content with their pay. This is also instructing us to take care of the people doing this work, today. Within the text of the New Testament, this method of living via donations was for the religious, not for the general population of followers.
Luke 10:1-23 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. 3 Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. 4 Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
5 “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ 6 If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
8 “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. 9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.
Luke 3:14 New International Version (NIV)
Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
Money is pervasive in most cultures. Money, a collective term for both currency and other forms of physical wealth; it is a method of doing trade.
Money allows a person to perform their gifts and labor and to receive the labor and gifts of others. When an individual places more importance than this on money, or when possessing of money/wealth becomes their love, this is where sinful behavior arises. Love belongs foremost to God and then to neighbor and one’s self.
Matthew 6:21 New International Version (NIV)
For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.
Malachi 3:10 New International Version (NIV)
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
Proverbs 13:11 New International Version (NIV)
Dishonest money dwindles away, but whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow.
Luke 14:28 New International Version (NIV)
Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it.
1 Timothy 5:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Matthew 6:19 English Standard Version (ESV)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,
Proverbs 17:16 New International Version (NIV)
Why should fools have money in hand to buy wisdom, when they are not able to understand it?
Proverbs 3:9 New International Version (NIV)
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops;
Matthew 22:15-21 New International Version (NIV)
15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” 18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” 21 “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
James 2:16 English Standard Version (ESV)
And one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
There is also instruction regarding lending money.
Deuteronomy 15:7 New International Version (NIV)
If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them.
Exodus 22:25 English Standard Version (ESV)
If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest.
Deuteronomy 23:19 English Standard Version (ESV)
Do not charge a fellow Israelite interest, whether on money or food or anything else that may earn interest.
Luke 6:34-38 English Standard Version (ESV)
And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Deuteronomy 23:19-20 English Standard Version (ESV)
“You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
Leviticus 25:35-37 English Standard Version (ESV)
“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.
Luke 6:34-35 English Standard Version (ESV)
And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Matthew 5:42 English Standard Version (ESV)
Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
Proverbs 19:17 English Standard Version (ESV)
Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
Psalm 37:21 English Standard Version (ESV)
The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives;
Exodus 22:25 English Standard Version (ESV)
If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.
Psalm 112:5 English Standard Version (ESV)
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice.
Psalm 15:5 English Standard Version (ESV)
Who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.
Ezekiel 18:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
Does not lend at interest or take any profit, withholds his hand from injustice, executes true justice between man and man,
Proverbs 22:7 English Standard Version (ESV)
The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Romans 13:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Proverbs 22:26 English Standard Version (ESV)
Be not one of those who give pledges, who put up security for debts.
Matthew 5:40 English Standard Version (ESV)
And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
Proverbs 8:5 English Standard Version (ESV)
O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.
Ephesians 4:28 English Standard Version (ESV)
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.
Exodus 20:15 New International Version (NIV)
You shall not steal.
God has bestowed great wealth upon individuals.
1 Samuel 2:7 New International Version (NIV)
The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.
2 Chronicles 1:11-12 New International Version (NIV)
11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
Genesis 13:2 New International Version (NIV)
Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
Genesis 14:17-24 New International Version (NIV)
17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”
Genesis 15:1-21 New International Version (NIV)
1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield,your very great reward. ” 2 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” 4 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. 7 He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” 8 But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” 9 So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” 10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” 17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
Job 42:10-17 New International Version (NIV)
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.
12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys.
13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters.
14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch.
15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.
16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.
17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.
Deuteronomy 28:12 New International Version (NIV)
The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.
Luke 16:19-31 New International Version (NIV)
The Rich Man and Lazarus Appendix C
With wealth comes direction and a stern warning for those who misuse the wealth entrusted to them. As with any gift or possession, use it wisely according to God’s Will.
1 Peter 5:2-3 New International Version (NIV)
2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
Matthew 6:1-4 New International Version (NIV)
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Acts 8:20 New International Version (NIV)
Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!
Matthew 21:12-13 New International Version (NIV)
12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
James 5:1-6 New International Version (NIV)
1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2 Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4 Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5 You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you.
Then we look at John the Baptist, basically penniless and living in the desert. Jesus, the Son of God, was not adorn with riches; in fact, we read that He rejected riches offered by unholy means.
Matthew 4:1-11 New International Version (NIV)
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Paul addresses the use of wealth in his writings to the Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 8:7-15 New International Version (NIV)
7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
In our materialistic society, it is easy to get caught up in the desires of having materiality for ourselves. In the examples of the Old Testament, Abraham and Solomon did not exhibit greed. Massive assets were used by Abraham and Solomon to participate in God’s Plan. John the Baptist and Jesus Christ fulfilled God’s Plan without material riches; they were not part of their path.
Having worldly wealth is fine; as with anything, only when it is used for good. It is one’s intent and use which makes it a person’s gains, or losses, in the next life.
Proverbs 10:4 New International Version (NIV)
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
Ecclesiastes 7:12 New International Version (NIV)
Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it.
1 Timothy is often misquoted by leaving out the word “love”. Money, in and of itself, is an object, neither good nor evil. It is when we love money; placing it above God; is when evil is being committed. The point is expanded upon in Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:9-15.
1 Timothy 6:10 New International Version (NIV)
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs
Matthew 6:24 New International Version (NIV)
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Luke 16:9-15 New International Version (NIV)
9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
14 The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. 15 He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
Revelation 3:17 New International Version (NIV)
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Matthew 13:22 New International Version (NIV)
The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Ecclesiastes 5:10 New International Version (NIV)
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.
Matthew 19:21 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus answered, “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.”
Luke 12:33 New International Version (NIV)
Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
Matthew 13:44 New International Version (NIV)
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Hebrews 13:5 New International Version (NIV)
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.”
1 Timothy 6:17-19 New International Version (NIV)
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.