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Grisham’s Testament

April 21, 2018

“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” 1 Timothy 6:10

Any John Grisham fans out there? If I were to select a favorite character from his novels, Rachel Lane would top the list.

Rachel Lane, unbeknown to her, was the illegitimate daughter of a billionaire. Before she discovered her origins, she was called by God to go into the most remote part of the jungles of Brazil as a missionary. Grisham’s book, The Testament, follows lawyer Nate O’Riley deep into the jungle where he is assigned the task of finding and informing her that her long-lost father has died, leaving her his entire estate.

The climax of the novel, in my opinion, is when Nate finally finds Rachel in the heart of Brazil’s rain-forests. As he shares the news of her windfall, he expects that she will pack up and leave to enjoy the luxuries of her newfound wealth. But she turns down the offer! Needless to say, O’Reilly is stunned by her unwavering commitment to her calling and her love for the primitive people she has given her life to help. Her unique dedication to God and people above the seduction of money then opened the door for Rachel to share the gospel with her new friend Nate.

This encounter deep in the jungle of Brazil is a powerful illustration of the principle that Paul shares with Timothy in our text today. This verse—often misquoted—does not say that money is the root of all evil. Money is, in fact, a tool that can and should be used wisely and generously for God’s glory. Jesus himself often spoke about the importance of good stewardship in many of His parables, positively spotlighting good investors, wise stewards, and shrewd managers. So, it’s not money that’s the problem.

The problem comes when we stop managing money and, instead, money starts managing us! According to Scripture, greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5), and as Jesus clearly warned, “You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24). And Paul adds that it is “the love of money” that is a root of all kinds of evil.

Interestingly, Grisham underscores the danger that money’s seductions can lead us into. Woven into the plot of The Testament are the stories of the numerous other descendants of the billionaire. While Nate is off searching for Rachel, the wannabe heirs are “piercing themselves with many griefs” by fighting for their share of the inheritance, purchasing expensive new cars, gambling away the funds, and generally giving full vent to their greed. What a contrast to the deep and significant values that drive Rachel’s love for God and people.

And though Grisham was writing fiction, he is on to something! We all know what it means to have money manage our actions and attitudes. Whether it’s the lure of a newer, more prestigious car, the pull of a bigger and better house, the drive to keep up with the Joneses, or just the adrenalin rush of shopping and spending, money is a master ready to make all of us slaves.

Thankfully, Paul provides a positive alternative to the love of money. In 1 Timothy 6:6, he redefines true gain by saying that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” And in 1 Timothy 6:11 he calls us to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness.”

Rachel had it right! Do you?


  • Has a “love of money” subtly crept into your life? In what ways?
  • Think back to a stage in life (perhaps it’s now!) when finances were tight.
  • How can (and should) those seasons draw you closer to Jesus? How can we as followers of Jesus pursue contentment, even in seasons of greater material prosperity?