By Morgan Cates
Dave Ramsey, who has a net worth of $200+ million, has a podcast called The Ramsey Show. During an episode in January 2022, he discussed the strategic moves that he made in his real estate business in order to increase profit. Ramsey explained that he raised the rent prices on his properties in order to stay in alignment with the rising market rates, and because of those higher prices, some of his tenants were forced to leave and move to lower priced homes. While discussing this on his podcast, Ramsey said, “If they need to move to a cheaper house, because they can’t afford, they’re gonna move to a lesser house, because if they move they’re gonna pay market rent… if I raised my rent to be market rate that does not make me a bad Christian. I did not displace that person out of that house if they can no longer afford it,” (The Wrap). This caused an uproar on social media. People proceeded to slam Dave Ramsey, calling him a hypocrite, a money lover, and a sinner. The verse that Christians primarily referred to in this controversy was 1 Timothy 6:10, which says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” There you have it. Dave Ramsey is evil because he’s rich… not exactly.
Note what Paul says here, he makes a specific distinction. He says that the love of money is the root of all evil, not money itself. Christians have often ignored that one very important word in order to use this verse to bash anyone who makes a hefty earning for themselves, but they miss the context of this passage. Paul is not just talking about money here. Money itself is a gift of God’s grace and should be enjoyed in a wholesome and responsible manner that is consistent with Christian ethics. 1 Timothy 6 is talking about a yearning for money, an unhealthy obsession. A love of money is a result of the temptation that comes from desiring to be rich as Paul explains, “those who desire to be rich fall into temptation” (1 Timothy 6:9). The root of evil Paul mentions in verse ten comes from a domino effect that starts with the desire to be rich for the wrong reasons. When people desire to become rich they fall into a, “snare,” that leads to, “ruin and destruction,” which is the cause of, “all kinds of evils,” (1 Timothy 6:9-10), and this is because when we place money over obedience to the Lord, we are willing to change our morals in order to gain more money, which leads to sinfulness. This does not mean that a Christian who strategically earns an honest wage for their family is sinning. In fact, Christians should work to make money to provide for their families. Finances also offer an opportunity to promote the gospel. Although
the majority of Christians do not directly work in ministry, every Christian has an opportunity to help promote the Kingdom through financial support of those who are in ministry. In these two verses Paul plainly makes his case, but his intention is often misquoted due to a lack of Biblical literacy.
Although there are those who overexaggerate this command, on the other hand there are Christians who ignore it all together. You have likely heard it called by many names, but the most popular title is the, “prosperity gospel.” Those who proclaim this false gospel claim that it is always God’s desire for Christians to be healthy, wealthy, and prosperous, and if you are not experiencing that then there is something wrong and you need to increase your faith so that God will bless you. This false teaching is rampant in the American Church, and as we see from 1 Timothy, it has been an issue throughout all of church history. Jesus even condemned this idea in the sermon on the mount, “No one can serve two masters, for 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 God and money,” (Matthew 6:24). The Greek word for serve here, douleuō, is indicative of slave work, not voluntary work. The verbiage that Jesus uses in this verse implies that he is posing the reader with a choice. You can either be a slave to money, or you can be a slave to the Lord, but not both. This completely destroys the prosperity gospel. Throughout the Bible it is blatantly obvious that God’s ultimate goal is His own preeminent glory, not our prosperity. This does not mean, however, that a Christian cannot or should not earn a substantial amount of money. If a follower of Christ has the ability to earn a significant amount of money through honest gain, then may they be good stewards of those finances to the glory of God. Therefore, no, money is not the root of all evil, the love of money is.