BY: NATHAN HUYNH
There are a lot of misconceptions about money.
Money is not evil.
Money is not good.
Money is not the bane of human existence.
Money is not the purpose of it either.
Money is not the root of all problems.
Money is not the answer to all difficulties.
Money is not the cause of strife between governments and nations.
Money is not the savior of broken families and relationships.
Money is not happiness. Money is not sorrow.
Just ask Antoine Walker. He was a man who had it made in this life. After graduating high school, he received a full scholarship to play basketball at the University of Kentucky where he proceeded to not only become an All-SEC First Team starting Power Forward as a freshman, but also an integral part of Kentucky’s championship run that year. After finishing his first year, he declared for the NBA draft, was picked 6th overall by the Boston Celtics, and made the NBA All-Star team in just his second season. Near the pinnacle of his career, he was named to three NBA All –Star Teams and eventually became an NBA Champion in 2006-2007 with the Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, Antoine Walker is very likely to never be remembered as a 3-time NBA All-Star or even as an NBA Champion. After racking up millions upon millions of dollars in his basketball career, he recently declared bankruptcy for debts of over $12.7 MILLION. This was attributed to a long-standing gambling addiction and multiple risky purchases of multi-million dollar homes. After several attempts to get his basketball career back on track in order to pay off some of his ridiculous debts, he retired for good this past summer, having made no progress whatsoever in his journey back to his sport.
Money is an interesting idea. The funny thing about money is how effective it is at displaying what type of person you are. If you never had money but spent your entire life seeking it, you are regarded as a failure. If you always had money but you never spent it, you are remembered as a miser. And if you always had money but only spent it for your selfish desires, you are judged as a glutton and a fool.
The other funny thing about money is that you cannot live life without it. You can try to forsake money and live upon your own means and strength. Good luck surviving in today’s world. You can also give all of your money away to other people as a symbol of your independent spirit. Try buying your next meal with that spirit too. Finally you can quit the world and abandon civilization, forever removing the need for currency. Is that what you call a fulfilled life? Whether we like it or not, money is a necessity in our lives.
But the idea that money is important seems to terrify our modern society. There is even a good chance that at this point you are probably thinking, “Wait, isn’t money evil? Isn’t it the cause of all of our problems?” Or for those of you who are more spiritually inclined, you may be thinking, “Doesn’t God tell us to not seek money? What about Acts 2:42-47? Doesn’t it say that that we should sell all our possessions and just live in the presence of Christ?” The answer is, “Not quite.”
In her masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand details the struggles of men and women who truly understand the power and importance of money. Halfway through her book, Francisco d’Anconia, the key protagonist and the speaker of this essay’s opening quote, gives a dissertation on the importance of valuing money. What he argues is that money is the ultimate means of determining the goodness of man. Money, he notes, is simply a tool meant to test a man’s character. The inherently good will use the money for the inherent good, while those who have nothing but evil and selfish desires will be crushed and destroyed by their own greed.
It is a pity that Ayn Rand lived her life as a devout atheist, because I believe that she and God would have agreed about a lot of things, the foremost of these being money. In James 2:5-6, James warns his readers about living a life purely dedicated to the accumulation of wealth. In Mark 4:19, Jesus notes that the joy and happiness found in money is simply a lie. And in Proverbs 24:27, David writes about putting your house in order and preparing for bountiful harvest. The philosophies found in these verses are repeated in Ayn Rand’s own novel Atlas Shrugged.
The reason why I bring Ayn Rand up is that I believe she was onto something when she writes that money is simply a means to a goal. If our life goals are based upon selfish desires, then the journey there will be full of extravagance and lust. Remember Antoine Walker? After the NBA, he lived a life of self-glorification. And because he had the complete monetary means to do so, he eventually found himself drowning in his own desires.
But let’s imagine someone else. Imagine a man who understands that the purpose of his money is to be used for a good higher than himself. This is a man who will not only accomplish great good in his life but be blessed by the good he brings out in others.
I feel that God has placed money in our lives to see whom we truly worship. If we worship the Lord God Almighty, then we understand that everything we do must further glorify Him. So when God gives us money, He is essentially challenging us to see where we place all of our hopes and dreams. If your confidence in Him is defined by the amount of wealth that He has blessed you with, then there is no doubt in my mind that the purpose of your money will be used to satisfy your earthly desires instead of the heavenly ones.
Luke 12:48 (NIV) says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” There is a parable in the Gospels that describes a master giving his three servants each ten coins as he departs for a trip. The first servant makes the most out of it and doubles his master’s investment. The second servant also shows wisdom and manages to add an additional five coins. However the third servant, fully competent and fully aware of what he has been given, completely wastes his opportunity and does nothing useful with his money.
That parable is like a miniaturized version of Atlas Shrugged. Two different men are given equal talents and gifts, but only one truly maximizes it for a greater good. The other is simply content living a complacent life, using his talents only for himself. The scariest part about that parable is how true it can be in our lives. We can become so lazy sometimes and just use our God-given talents for ourselves.
Money is God’s ultimate gift to us because with it, we are given an opportunity to worship God in an incredible way. Our money is a representation of who we are and what we aspire to be. If our ultimate goal is to further God’s kingdom, then we should have no fear of money or our ability to earn it. Rather we should hold the opposite view and earn as much money as possible for and only for the glory of God.
So whether God blesses you monetarily or seeks to place you in a lowly, humble position, remember that money is never the ultimate goal in life. Instead money is a representation of what we worship. And if what you worship is holy and true, then I have no doubt that God will be true to you.