No, I’m not a hippy; I’ve never tried weed and I even trim my armpit hair because I believe in grooming… it should be like a well manicured lawn because no one likes an explosion of body hair. You’re welcome for that bonus tip. The truth is I’m a recovering workaholic, which means I want to see people be rewarded for their hard work, buuuuuttttt wealth rarely represents your work ethic. Wealth doesn’t represent how smart you are and it’s even less representative of how good you are as a person. Wealth usually leads to the opposite; it makes a lot of people their worst selves. Wealth 99% of the time means… (pausing for dramatic effect) trouble. What are the three reasons for murder? Love, protecting a secret, and money… thank you Castle for teaching me that lesson. When it comes to individual relationships, is anything more dangerous than money? Try lending or borrowing some from a friend; the odds are it won’t end well. Money is a major cause of many marriages falling apart (eg. “You spend too much!” and “Why are you so cheap?”) and resenting our jobs (e.g. “I don’t make enough!”); it causes corporate downsizing, anxiety, jealousy, and buyers regret. Money can lead to questioning our self worth and leads to many suicides especially in connection to casinos and gambling. Money is dangerous. The great evil in Western culture is wealth, and the worst part is most of us want more of it: “If only I made just a little more money,” “If only I could win the lottery,” “If only I was a mobster and could throw my life away like Al Pacino in Scarface.” That last one isn’t overly popular, but we are obsessed with money; we get obsessed with who makes more, who spends more, and who saves more. Money consumes us because we always want more; we’re never satisfied and that reduces happiness.
One of the major problems with wealth is it is typically acquired by someone else suffering. Even government workers (eg. including politicians, policemen, firefighters, educators, medical staff, etc.) being paid cause others to suffer. For every tax dollar given to them, programs and people who need help go without and/or the rest of us get taxed more. Do I think people who work for the Ontario government are wealthy? If you can buy a house that’s over 500k, you’re wealthy. Am I judging? No, but I think everyone who makes above the average wage should be extra grateful for what they have. Besides, I can’t judge because I wish I was really rich, and could afford (but not buy) a million dollar house because that would mean I would be able to help more people. I’d love to be able to hand money to every charity I liked, sponsor a bunch of mission trips for the lasting impact they have on people, and to pay off the mortgages for all my family. Hopefully one day this will happen… I’m sure my family wants this too. Wealth is supposed to be a tool for making this a better world, and not for having stuff. Money itself isn’t evil, but it becomes evil when it rules our lives, and that’s what it’s doing for many of us in our culture.
If you look at religions of the world, wealth is never part of what makes someone the wise or holy person. When did Christianity become corrupt? After 300CE after Constantine made it the official Roman religion and helped it become wealthy. But wealth is the opposite of what holy people seek. Money only seems to get in the way. Buddha left wealth to pursue the greater life. Mother Teresa was known for selling the gifts people gave her in order to give to the poor. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor” and “I’ll say it again–it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” (Mat 19:24) Yet, what do many of us value more than anything else? Wealth. If you look at the Jewish Scriptures, we were never meant for wealth. Adam and Eve were put in a Garden. In a garden, everyone is equal. There isn’t rich or poor. At the time of Moses, the Jewish Law that was given even has a season where all debts are erased… I wish we still had that rule in place. And when the Israelites wanted a king, God was against the idea. He wanted the people to be provided for, but kings and their ensuing wealth mess things up. In Christianity, the early followers often sold all they had in order to take care of each others’ needs and for 2000 years monks and nuns have taken vows of poverty in order to experience God’s love in a more powerful way. Wealth doesn’t help us be better people, and yet we still crave it. So what’s the answer? A lot of us need to simply be more grateful for what we have and cut back on our spending and wants, and when you’re as spoiled as people in our culture who live off technology and the latest and greatest this becomes a major hurtle.
This week may you rethink the role money has in your life in order to find something better.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people