Investigating the Bible: Love of money: ‘don’t pay too much for the whistle’


Joe Louis is one of the greatest boxers ever, the world heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949. When he was asked in retirement who hit him the hardest in his career, he replied, “Uncle Sam.” As we prepare to pay income tax, we may agree with Joe. Does the Bible consider income and money evil?

The belief that the scripture says money is the root of all evil is a misquoted verse. The advice that the apostle Paul gave young Timothy was significantly different: “For the love of money (bold type added) is a root of all kinds of evils.” (I Timothy 6:10; English Standard Version used throughout). Here’s some of the Bible’s guidance on money and wealth.

Wealth is temporary. A closer look at New Testament Greek in that scripture helps clarify the meaning. The phrase, “love of money”, is a Greek compound word, “money-love”. Ancient Greek had three words for love. The one used here is phī-lā-ō, which is friendship love, like for a sibling or friend. An expanded translation of the verse: “Making money your trusted friend is a dead end.” In a parable of Jesus, the rich man said to himself, “…’Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:19-21).

The love of money can cause harm. Paul explained that, “…those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into ruin and destruction…It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (I Timothy 6:9-10). Bible scholar William Barclay quoted an old Roman proverb: “Wealth is like sea-water; … far from quenching a man’s thirst, it intensifies it. The more he gets, the more he wants.”

The love of money is a sign of the times. Paul wrote that “… in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, … treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, ... Avoid such people.” (II Timothy 3:1-5). “Money-lovers” here is the same compound Greek word mentioned above.

Money is a litmus test. Its use reveals true character. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” (Luke 12:34); and …”No servant 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.” (Luke 16:13).

Money can be used for good. It meets our needs; “…for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” (I Timothy 6:6-8). The good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable, unlike a priest and a Levite, used his wealth to rescue a crime victim. After treating the man’s wounds and carrying him to an inn, he gave the innkeeper money and said, “…Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.” (Luke 10:35).

Benjamin Franklin wrote that at age seven he saw a friend with a whistle which he coveted. He gave his friend all his money and bought it. When he got home, he cried when learned that he had paid four times its worth. He carried this lesson with him throughout his life: “Do not give too much for the Whistle.” He said he met many who, whether for power, prestige, pleasure or possessions, bought themselves misery because they paid too much for the Whistle.

David Carlson Pastor (yes, that is his last name but not his profession) is a Polk County, Oregon resident and graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary in Minnesota (M.Div., M.Th.)



Christianity is a Roman invention. After Constantine ratified it around 323 CE as the state religion, the Bible was finalized in approx. 500 CE. The saying, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” suddenly makes sense, does it not? The Papacy has taken and taken and taken while putting people to death if they did not give (money, labor, faithfulness).
The passages quoted above are so convenient! It’s the earliest form of spyops… massaging peoples minds to do what the Roman church wants (money).
This column is not food for the intellect, it’s food for anyone who doesn’t want to use his or her brain. Good luck.

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