Money, Wealth, Possessions – A Guardian business article published in April 2018 ran with the headline “Richest 1% on target to own two-thirds of all wealth by 2030”. The article stated based on the growing inequality, that the top 1% would hold wealth equating to $305,000,000,000,000.00 US dollars, which is double what they hold in wealth today. Many people, probably a whole lot of people are angry about this, crying out against this injustice.
Wherever I travel and speak with people and families across the globe, I find that the person’s view of money, wealth, and possessions depends on his/her personal experience with economic status, cultural norms, societal structures, and religious influences. Thinking intently of the variety of views that can be produced by so many people living so many unique lives, it is mind boggling that anyone, or any group of people could have a common view (like a common language, or common history, or united view) on money, wealth, and possessions.
In spite of these competing views and all the things that influence these views, Christians or followers of Jesus Christ should have a united or common view of Money, Wealth, and Possessions – even when we do not always practice what we have learned or what we preach.
David gives us a clue as recorded in 1 Chronicles 29:11-14:
“Everything in heaven and earth is Yours, O Lord. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given only what comes from your hand.”
Do you see it? Read it again. David’s view on things begins with the foundational view that God is creator and owner of it all. That foundation is what shapes and differentiates a Christian’s view from all world views.
One of the things that keeps rattling around in my mind is Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 19:14: “For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children”. My own children have taught me some of the simplest yet profound examples of seeing things through Jesus’ eyes.
A few years ago, I was sitting on my daughter Emily’s bed as we talked about her plans for the summer. What had she hoped to do, to experience, while she had time off from school? She shared about 2 decisions. She wanted to compete in a horse competition, a “Hunter Jumper Show”, and she was thinking through ways to register and pay entry fees. She figured that she could use the money she saved from birthday gifts and from working several part-time jobs to buy her riding boots, competition dress shirt, and special riding pants. Emily also had her heart set on going to Zimbabwe on a short-term mission trip to serve alongside Ms. Vickie who lives in the bush, among the Tonga people.
Feeling terrible, I had to break the news to her. The reality was that the amount of money she had accumulated could not pay for both, and mom and dad could not really help. I told her to think about her choices, then she was to get back with me and let me know what she had decided.
Three days later I saw several boxes sitting on our kitchen table. These boxes contained her riding boots, shirt, and pants. Emily must have made her choice. I asked her if this was so, but she just said, “I am still deciding. Maybe God will provide for both.” After a week or so later, I noticed the boxes again sitting on the kitchen table. Each box was labeled to be returned to the “Saddlery”. Emily had decided to return all her horse competition gear and clothing and get a refund. She had chosen Zimbabwe. She had chosen the Tonga people.
Money is nothing but a tool that we can trade to feed and care for ourselves or others. Wealth is nothing but a measure of the accumulation of money- what we store up for ourselves or for others. Possessions are nothing but things that we use to serve ourselves or others. They have no value in or of themselves apart from context and how we view them. For a Christian, they should always be regarded in the context of God owns it all. And our view of Money, Wealth, and Possessions should always be these exist to bring praise and thanks to God.