1 Timothy 6:1-10                                    ”Evil Roots”                     


            In the letter to Timothy that was read today Paul has to tell about  “the love of money” and how it can subvert the Faith in Jesus Christ. So, today we get to talk about money and how we are to use it as Christians.

            The interesting thing in our Scripture today is that in discussing money, Paul starts with the idea of slavery. In the ancient world, one of the distinguishing factors of being a slave is that a slave has no money. A slave back then would not have to deal with money. They would be fed and clothed. They would be given shelter and work. So, they would not need to have their own money. The only time that they would see money is when it was given to them by the slave master for keeping or buying what was necessary for the greater household. We have an example of that in Jesus’ parable of the talents (Luke 19) The Gospel that seems to say the most about money is the Gospel according to Luke. You might want to look specifically at the parables about wealth in Luke 14-16. However, you can find references to wealth throughout Luke and throughout the Bible.

            Going back to Paul’s mentioning of slavery, this kind of slavery was not at all what this country experienced in the enslavement of the African race. It was not a racial thing at all. Nor did it entail necessarily the kind of brutality that Africans experienced. Back then anyone could have been a slave.

One became a slave in those days because one was in debt and had no way to pay it back. If you owed more than you could pay, you went to your lender and went into slavery to pay back that debt. The last thing you had to sell in the world was your self, and you did. When you borrowed money, therefore, you made sure that the lender was a good master to his slaves because you might be one yourself if you are not able to pay back the loan. Likewise, the lender would consider your potential as a slave when making the loan. So, you could almost say that it was slavery by mutual consent, borne out of economic necessity. Truly, once you became a slave, you were considered more like a member of the family in many respects. It would have not been a stretch for the people of the time to think of slaves and masters as brothers and sisters of the Faith.


            The real issue in Ephesus when Paul was writing Timothy, seems to have been that there were slaves who were not respecting their Christian masters. They were not honoring the very person who saved their lives when they were in economic distress.

This may be easy to understand when thinking about the teachings of Jesus. The slaves were praying along side their masters in Christian worship the Lord’s Prayer already: “Forgive us our debts!” Yet, their masters were not forgiving them their debts and setting them free.

Likewise, in the teachings of Christ in expository word and parable there would seem to be a tremendous preference for the poor. This theme is punctuated with the famous saying from Jesus that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God (Luke 18:25).  So, the early Christians, being in fact mostly slaves in the church, were living in cognitive dissonance. They were told they were “free in Christ Jesus” and that their “debts were to be forgiven,” yet in a very practical sense, that was not happening.


            Paul makes a profound distinction in his letter to Timothy. He says that money is not so much the issue as is the “Love of money that is a root of many kinds of evil” (1Tim 6:10). So, having money is not the problem; loving it too much is. After all, we all came into this world naked, and we cannot take anything with us when we leave!  So before God and in the church, money should really never be the issue.

            As an aside I do want to point out that money is not “THE root of all evil.” The bible is misquoted in modern aphorism. The bible specifically states, that is Paul writes to Timothy, that money is “a,” meaning “one,” cause of evil in the world. I think we can all name a whole lot of evil that has nothing to do with money. Just keep that in mind please. Money is one root, not the only root, to evil.    


            In the early church we know that rich believers were inspired to sell their properties and give them over to the Apostles. Acts 4:32-35 makes it clear that this was a common happening and was considered to be part of the grace of God falling on the early church. In Acts 5 we can read the story of Ananias and Sapphira who held part of their money back from the church. Peter notes that in doing this they had tested the Holy Spirit itself. The Spirit then takes their lives from them, and they are buried.

            In the early church then, there was great wealth because everyone was selling his or her property and giving it to the apostles. Now think about this: part of a rich man’s property includes slaves! So, these slaves were in essence given over to the church when the rich patron became a Christian. They were set free after a fasion.

Unfortunate, once they were free, they had no means of a living, so they came back to the church were their masters were worshipping and claimed to follow Christ in order to get what might be considered severance pay for being a slave.  Whereas that might be a true “justice issue” that the church should have looked at, the greater issue this created was that people were joining the church for of financial reasons.


            We still have these issues in the church today. Today, I am going to condemn my own generation for its worship of success rather than God. My generation has been called the “Late Baby Boomers.” It is a generation that saw locally owned family-run shops bulldozed out of existence to make way for shiny new shopping malls. These malls became the model for success in my generation.  If you wanted to be perceived as being successful in life, then you made sure that you were seen shopping at the overpriced national chains at the glitzy new mall. As a teenager, you dreamed about working at the mall. And dare I say it, as a baby-boomer Christian we wanted to worship at the mall, and so we built new churches with glass doors, mauve interiors, and shiny plastic greenery. None of this has anything to do with worshipping God but has more to do with how baby-boomers have defined success.

            In some instances the mall-style church has been taken to the extreme. Some now have food courts attached, ATM’s for instant on-site banking needs, and Christian merchandising shops. As my generation begins to slip into obscurity, the next generation is looking at the shopping mall church and are not very interested in it. In fact, shopping malls themselves are not doing well these days. There is no connection to success in shopping in a mall anymore.

            In Pasadena, the Pasadena Mall closed its doors and was torn down after a decade of really only being used by morning joggers who would run its concourse for exercise in inclement weather. “Old Town Pasadena,” a bunch of old shops on back streets, is booming by the way. The original shopping mall on this island is now being used as the County Seat. The second mall that was built is truly half empty and struggling to survive. Thankfully, the next generations down, the so-called generations XYZ, is not so much into the worship of success as my generation. I have great hopes for the next generation that they will straighten out some of the nonsense the church has gone through in the last fifty years because of my generation!

I have mentioned before the idea of “church shopping.” In this day and age, after my generation has turned churches into shopping malls, this notion has taken hold. This idea of “church shopping” means to drive around from church to church seeing which one you would like to pick out. This is done much the same way as looking for an auto-parts store or a supermarket. Then, you make the choice as to which will provide the level of service that you are inclined to use.

In the days of American slavery that meant you chose a church that either was an abolitionist church if you were against slavery, or a church that upheld the idea of slavery if you owned slaves or were otherwise racist. You would attend the church that did not challenge your political and economic values. Yet, that is exactly what the early church was. That is what Jesus’ own message was to the world. WE all have to think differently now about money, status, and relationships with others.


The last thing that Paul writes about is in our text for today is that money is piercing. It is painful. Maybe that is why Jesus showed the picture of Caesar on the coin and said give it back to Caesar! (Mt 22:21) Give all that piercing pain back to Caesar! This is tax season. Anybody like paying taxes? No, it hurts. It pierces. Anybody here like paying bills? Whether you have the money or not, it hurts. Anybody here enjoy taking out a loan? Ouch!

Then, in contrast we get the grace of Jesus Christ! He paid it all for us! That must have been the most excruciating pain. But because of that, we are free in Christ and not enslaved to the economics of this world! We only receive all the goodness and love from God through the Lord Jesus. And, with that amazing thought, I finish.