The famous verse in The Bible claims that we cannot serve both God and money. But we sure do try.
Tax season is a big stresser for a lot of people. The time when the government swallows a big chunk of your paycheck and, sometimes, asks for even more than the steady stream you’ve already had deducted throughout the year.
We love our money. There is so much that is intoxicating about it. The things it can buy you. Like, literal things. Cars and homes and Yankees tickets. And it can buy much more than that – the affection and attention of others, positions of power and influence. When you have money, your voice suddenly gets louder. And, paradoxically, things get cheaper. I wonder if anyone gets more free things than a billionaire.
When we talk about this verse from The Bible, it is fashionable to make money out to be an evil. Some disgusting, snarling monster like those Wall Street characters in an Eighties movie.
But money isn’t bad. In fact, it is nothing. It could be toilet paper or a heap of trash if we decided. But our collective choice has landed on money as representative. It represents what we want. There has to be a way to decide who gets what they want and who doesn’t. So, we decide on a way to send money to some and not to others. A complicated, imperfect system but that is basically the gist. And there is little wrong with it, as far as systems to go (relative to other systems, that is).
The trouble is within us. Our hearts. Our minds. We serve money. That is the reality. We do what it beckons. But we THINK it serves us. We believe it to be a means to our ends. Yet, those ends are never really manifested, never truly satisfied, and most often not codified. It is a lie. A mirage. More money is the end. So, money becomes the source and the object, the fuel and the destination. It becomes all-important, not just a luxury or an opportunity, or a resource, but life itself. We can’t breathe without it. We can’t live without it.
And so we do as it beckons. We devote our entire lives to the rules we set up. The personification of “wealth” and “richness”. Serving it faithfully in the hopes it will one day give us back all we have poured into it.
It never really does. It just sits there. It goes where we tell it to and waits when we tell it to. But we are often so afraid of our money that we, subconsciously, seem to ask it permission before giving it direction. And, in the end, we are just as dissatisfied as when we started.
The point of this Biblical statement is really that you cannot serve two masters. One will fall behind the other. And that is so true. We are too weak, too feeble, too uncertain and insecure to really be a master. So, we need one. Something we can devote ourselves to, some object of our trust and target of our affection.
If it is money we choose to serve, we will wrap God (and everything else) under its wing. We will set them all to work serving our ultimate Master.
When we talk about this, as I said, we often act as though we should either have money or not. As if the only alternative is burning our bills and living off the land somewhere in northern Canada.
The truth is, our money is valuable. It is an opportunity. A resource. It can (and should) serve other ends. It ought to be a henchman to a master. Our great mistake is when we allow the coup, wealth as a usurper of purpose.
So, send your money to the government, collect your refund, struggle with getting by and struggle with the mirage of worldly success. But no matter where you are, what you are experiencing, and what circumstances you face, you have a choice. Who is your master? Where will you place your trust? All other entities in your life will fall behind the one to which your deepest faith aligns.