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Money is the root of all evil

They're Only Half Right

Chick Yuill looks at what some people think Christians believe

It's a necessary part of living in the world

‘Money,’ people often say, ‘is the root of all evil.’ Back in the swing era of the 1940s there was even a popu­lar song warning of the dangers of all such filthy lucre: ‘Money is the root of all evil,/ Won’t contaminate myself with it,/ Take it away! Take it away! Take it away!’

Not everyone took the cautionary lyrics to heart, and some worldly wise cynic back then came up with a parody that changed that last line to ‘Gimme a tree!’

I’m fairly sure that the writers of the original version were convinced they were using words from the Bible. But, as is so often the case when people think they’re quoting Scripture, they were only half right.

What the Bible actually says is that ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’ (1 Timothy 6:10 King James Bible). The phrase occurs in a passage of a letter in which Paul, one of the most influential fig­ures in the early Christian Church, warns Timothy, a younger man, of the tempta­tions that can ensnare even seemingly religious people.

Timothy is reminded to be content with the provision for his basic needs and to resist the lure of financial gain which has resulted in the downfall of some of his contemporaries.

There’s nothing wrong with money in itself. It’s a necessary and unavoidable part of living in the world. A friend of mine, when he hears over-pious people say sol­emnly, ‘You can’t take it with you’, raises his eyebrows and responds, ‘Just try going anywhere without it!’ And when William Booth was accused of accepting ‘tainted money’ to further his work of establishing The Salvation Army, his reply was said to be, ‘Taint enough of it’, because all he wanted to do with it was to alleviate human suffering.

He had it right. The best attitude to the money we possess is to use it for good pur­poses. The problems arise when we love it to the point where it possesses us.

We need to make sure that we get that totally right.

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