Money is a funny thing. Man is engrossed by it, romanced by it – and often motivated by it, whether by need or greed.
Scriptures have at least an estimated 2.000 verses referencing money or possessions in the Bible. It’s obviously a necessity in most every economic system on earth, but can be used in sinister ways.
Money- it’s also an onerous thing. The statement that “love of money is root of all evilness” is profoundly on target in most societies. There is no sin in having money – but surely in making it a false god. Power, Pride and arrogance – the poisonous trifecta which has been the major fall of mankind.
It’s appropriate at this Christmastime to remember that Christ himself dared to be born in a manger and not in a gilded castle, in order to destroy that arrogance, greed, and pride.
Despite evolving societies, modern innovations, global awareness- cash seems to be king, and the world remains ‘the haves and the ‘have nots’ from the time of Christ, to the eons before his incarnation.
There is hardly one institution that is not premised or affected by money, or lack of it. Every political whim, societal structure and social ill has at its core the mechanics of who gets money (power), who wants it, and how to keep others from acquiring it. It’s that simple, no further philosophical or economic analysis needed.
Whether you’re talking about colonizing a nation or welfare reform,
the common denominator is the same. But money does has its virtues. It has different meanings to different people. The widow’s mite may be the spiritual equivalence to a philanthropist’s million dollar bequest- if the reasons are sincere.
Sometimes money can produce everlasting and profound events for merely a roll of cold cash, a few shekels or even 12 pieces of silver- but at what ‘cost’ ?
I often take a strange solitude in hearing the phrase “the wealthiest man in the graveyard is still dead”. Great memorials, and elaborate cemetery trim don’t make the status of being deceased any different than his other less wealthy graveyard cohorts. He is not less dead. He is just as dead.
In the much loved movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” the main character, George Bailey, finds himself entangled in situations where virtue and the relative status of money test his character in a small midwestern town.
Earlier in the movie, while being portrayed as a young boy, a wanderlust filled George Bailey, in a soda store, shoves his hand on a wishing gadget and says “I wish I had a million dollars”. Little did he realize the prescient meaning of his words, and the stark admonition of “watch out what you wish for” …comes to mind. He was spared the burden of having to acquire that million dollars – but towards a much better end.
Later in life, at the closing scene of the poignant movie- George never gets his million dollars, but the love that he gives and the love that he receives makes him immeasurably wealthy- and he surely does become the “richest man in town”.
God gives and takes. Heaven knows if that million dollars would have been the answer to his childhood wishes – or simply a yoke he could not carry. But God, as often, answered his call in unexpected ways.
A Rolling Stone song and lyrics comes to mind, “you don’t always get what you want- but you get what you need..”
For if passing thru the eye of a needle is easier than a materially rich man going to heaven – I remain happier not as some wealthy baron, but as someone who loves and is loved.
Michael Massa is a frequent contributor to Patheos and you can find more of his work on Patheos.Com
(It’s a Wonderful Life, Frank Capra. 1946). (The Rolling Stones, 1969)