It was suggested that I write something related to Black Friday as this piece will be published soon after or before that day. I didn’t want to. I brace myself whenever someone begins to speak on the dangers of money. I like money. I want more of it. I freely admit that money is the script used to write countless tales of evil. But is money evil?
Do you have a coin? I submit that this coin will neither commit nor tempt towards evil. It is a minuscule denomination of that illusive green-eyed monster called wealth. As a brick is not a building, this coin is not wealth. Jesus used money. Jesus arguably created money in the fish’s mouth. The disciples kept a purse. They paid the temple tax. This suffices to say that money and its use are not evil.
Is it possible that a certain accumulation of these amoral objects, also known as ‘wealth,’ could be immoral? Is wealth evil? It’s a sticky question. Unlike our first question, wealth cannot be defined without using comparisons: “a great quantity,” “an abundance,” “profusion,” “plentiful,” etc. But if we use comparisons we must know to what we are comparing.
Moving down a step, we find the phrase “more than we need.” But this also leaves the question of “need” and it gets no easier. We might try phrases like, “the sustaining of life without physical suffering due to lack of shelter, food, clothing, or cleanliness.” Still, we are stuck with a bit of ambiguity. Having slogged through abstruseness I’ve begun to search for a copout.
If we can show that extreme wealth is not evil then we can cheerfully skip the step. Will Scrooge McDuck be in heaven? Donald Trump? Bill Gates? I suppose the better question would be, “Will their wealth be what ultimately bars them?” We are told that it “is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle” but we are also told in the same place that “with God all things are possible.” We are not worried about the difficulty but the possibility. If possible, then we may conclude that wealth is amoral. Do we not?
If money and wealth are amoral, then “monetary sins” originate not from their intrinsic qualities but in the heart. The person is turned or not turned by heart’s lure to wealth. The sins of the heart manifest in the sins we see and read about written in gold ink. There seems no sin in the obtaining of wealth. There are sins for many of the methods used to obtain or hold on to wealth.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also….No one 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 (ESV, Matthew 6:19-21, 24).
I submit that the crux of the issue is not “what you have,” but rather, “who has you.” God and gold are not mutually exclusive but there are times that one chooses between the two. Turn your attention inward. Whom do you serve? Evaluate your life, your surroundings, and your actions. Whose flag flies high on the castle of your heart?
The classic adage states, “Work to live, don’t live to work.” All one needs is a little spiritual sprinkle and one reads, “Work to serve, don’t serve work.”
--Written by: R.Y.