1 Timothy 6:10 is one of the most misquoted passages from the bible (though Pulp Fiction’s take on Ezekiel 25:17 is another good one).

I’ve heard a lot of people either use or push against the phrase “money is the root of all evil”. But let’s set the record straight — that’s not what the bible says.

The bible says that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.

There’s a big difference here. It’s not about whether you have money or not. Money and faith are not oil and water — they can certainly mix.

The problem is when we start treating money as an idol — something to be worshiped, loved, sought after.

As with most passages, everything makes more sense in context. Here’s the NIV translation with some commentary.

1 Timothy 6:6

But godliness with contentment is great gain

Find peace and joy with your circumstances and what you have. Much in this world is beyond your control and if you convince yourself that you can only be happy if you “get that car” or “finally get to travel to Florida”, you could be setting yourself up for failure.

By all means, pursue the things that are important to you, but find contentment with what you have now and you’ll have a much happier life.

1 Timothy 6:7

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it

Even if you get all the material things you want, where does that leave you at the end of life?

Focusing too much on the possessions in this world makes us forget about the more important things we can do while here — building our character and loving one another.

1 Timothy 6:8

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that

Most would consider this even beyond minimalism, but remember, this isn’t about not having other things — it’s about being content with less.

1 Timothy 6:9

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction

Here’s the warning: don’t make being rich your goal. From a common sense perspective, we should all agree that being rich is a means to an end — not the end in and of itself, right?

When you make being rich your primary drive, you’re much more likely to sacrifice the truly important things in life — your relationships with others and your character.

1 Timothy 6:10

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.

There it is — the love of money. Don’t be afraid of money but don’t love it either. Going down this path where we treat money as a god in its own right is a recipe for disaster.

Now, how to avoid the trap?

1 Timothy 6:11

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.

There’s a lot to life that’s not dependent on money. Study after study shows that the happiest places on earth are not the places that have the highest standard of living or income.

Pursue things that are more valuable — love, character, faith, and you’ll find yourself much more satisfied with life.

Money— What is it good for?

Money is a tool — a resource. You can do great things with it or terrible things with it. The key to any resource is to free yourself from dependency on it. Put yourself in a position where money serves you — not the other way around.

You don’t need to be a gazillionaire to do this. One big piece is your mentality — are you going to go through life finding joy in what you have while still striving for self-improvement?

Or are you going to mope about in envy of those around you? The other piece is disconnecting yourself from the hold the resource has on you.

Spend less. I know for some that may seem like an impossibility, but I’m telling you that you can do it.

There are things you’re buying now that you can do without and be just as happy (if not more).