You plus money is still you
by Daniel Nalbach
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Our perspective of money in America is one of Satan's greatest accomplishments. Many have accepted the message that our slavery to this world is a financial one, and that we need monetary blessing to overcome the stresses of our life so that we can commit ourselves fully to doing good. In actuality, money is nothing more than a symbolic resource that provides access to other resources. Christ spent considerable time teaching about it in nearly half of his thirty-nine parables, reaffirming the importance of a right understanding of this thing that so completely saturates our lives.
After all, we encounter it in every aspect of life. Each of the resources we use in our society has a price tag associated with it. Even going to Church to worship uses transportation and gas that someone is paying for. Our time was once viewed as the only free resource we had available to us, but that too is now labelled with specific value, as if every moment of our lives not spent earning money has cost us in monetary terms.
Our own character defects have become a lack of available resources, rather than an item of personal responsibility. Psychological and emotional wounds are treated as unfulfilled needs. If we just had something better, the wound would heal. If we could do more, we wouldn't spend so much time thinking about our problems. A barrage of constant advertisement comforts us with the message that our problems are simply a lack of the things we need. Once we have them, we will feel better.
The message is both true and fundamentally flawed. The premise that our pain and suffering is caused by a lack, a void in our lives, is true. It is a lie however, that this void can be filled with more of anything other than God. Money, and the resources it provides are of this world. These external things cannot satisfy the internal needs we have. They simply provide surface distractions that push our attention away from the deeper currents of our spirit.
For some, that is enough. Life is a series of escapes, chained together in an endless loop of increasing volume. Each escape needs to be just a little bit more interesting, more spectacular than the last, to continue distracting from the reality of their inner being. Others spend their lives coveting the idea of escape. Watching the example of those with more resources, they tell themselves that the emptiness inside is because they are unfairly lacking the things they see.
Whether a person has money and what it gives, or simply covets what they see, the result is the same. The inner being feels the pain of loss and suffering regardless of worldy things. The executive whose daughter dies from luekemia is no better off than the factory worker who loses his wife to cancer. The rock musician who is addicted to heroin is no different than his cousin prostituting herself for the next meth fix. The inner struggles we face are not resolved by simply having more external resources available to us.
Indeed, a person who is a habitual liar will continue to be one after winning the lottery. This inner flaw is not changed by having more money. In some cases, the availability of resources that excessive money provides may actually serve to magnify our character defects. When we lack a thing, it forces us to seek externally for it. If we think we have it already, we turn inwards to self. Money requires management, and brings stress of it's own. Instead of surrendering to outward sovereignty when life is out of control, we assign ourselves that sovereignty in an effort to maintain the control we think we already have.
If then, we are the same person with or without money, of what advantage is it? Our inner struggle remains the same. A woman coping with the recent loss of her father is in pain. It is not diminished by a large inheritance. If neither she nor her father knew the Lord, no amount of money will provide genuine comfort. She has come into contact with eternity, and a temporal resource innately feels empty in the context of eternity.
Real comfort comes from a relationship with eternal God that fills the emptiness inside with the everlasting, infinite love of our Lord. He provides the eternal touch, healing, and satisfaction that we so desperately need. You are still trapped within yourself until freed by Him. Only when He is added to your life does it cease to be still you, and instead change into something new.
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