The Cares of This World

“Do not wear yourself out to become rich; have the wisdom to show restraint”

-Proverbs 23:4

“One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.”

-Proverbs 13:7

“Havin’ money aint everything, not having it is”-Kanye West

I have spoken of this many times, but it is a topic that has turned up many times as of late.  So I am taking that as a sign that I should revisit this topic.  And topic has to do with money and our relation to it.

I have confessed my sin of money, being for most of my life, the motivating factor for most of my actions.  From an early age, I knew I would rather have than to have not.  However, as I grew to manhood, my priorities changed.  There were things I was not willing to give in order to be wealthy.  My health, my family, my soul/spirit, and my time to some extent. 

Once I came to this realization, I was sort of out to sea without a paddle, I had no wind in my sails.  And I wrote about this period of my life and what it meant to me.  But the second phase of this was did it make me lazy?  And that is something I struggled with.  I knew I had not become a “tree hugger” (no offense to my tree hugging homies), and I still loved business and capitalism, but I strove to keep money in its proper place.

Once I came to proper knowledge, I came to resent the power people gave money in relationships, in social spaces, as an indicator of value.  I hated how people thought it was the end all and be all.  And people who were wealthy were held up as false gods. 

Especially being an economist, I knew better than most that money has no intrinsic value.  It is simply a medium for exchange.  But most importantly, it is a tool.  Once I adopted this mindset, I realized that not having money was not an obstacle for doing what I wanted.  It was a circumstance or environmental condition.  So I put more trust in my hustle and street smarts than my balance sheet. 

 But now I am entering the second quarter in my life, I am starting to see how money really changes a situation.  I read a statistic that the majority of marriages end due to financial reasons.  I started to see how much my peers began to worry about money or be seduced by the pursuit of it.  And it was making them old before their time.  The same thing that had happened to the generation before us was happening to my generation.  And I so desperately wanted to escape it. 

I began to wonder if it was possible to balance the desire for riches and wealth with living a good life.  As more of my female counterparts tell me that they want a man with ambition, but those men do not have time for a relationship, I wonder the role money is playing in the world of dating and relating.  I said in another post, that it is a Catch 22, you have to get money to be seen as a good man, but at the same time, it is hard to build a relationship while you “chasing them bucks.”  So what’s a man/woman to do? 

A telling story of this is a conversation Jesus had with his disciples.  Jesus said, “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”  When He said this, the disciples said “Lord, then who can be saved.”  And Jesus responded “With God all things are possible.” 

So, I have hope.  I think balance can be achieved if we have our priorities in the right place.  The first thing we must do is convert money into its ultimate use in our mind.  Money represents something to us: Stability, power, resources, the Good Life.  That way we turn money into tangibles and do not get lost in the pursuit of it. 

Another thing that can help is to take inventory of our most precious resources.  For me, it turned out to be time, health, family and God, and not in that order.  When I looked at it this way, money was like number five or six on my list and it became a way to amplify or enhance my top priorities. 

Lastly, being thankful and finding a higher purpose for my actions.  Money is paltry compensation for the utilization of our time, talent and God-given creativity.  We should do what we have to do, but we should also do something we love.  Because when we act out of love and genuine enjoyment, then we are truly fulfilled and we are at our best. 

I hope when I die, my loved ones get more from me than an inheritance.  I want to leave them a priceless legacy of wisdom, love and character.  I desire to be rich towards God and not only on earth.  Let’s not get it twisted, there is nothing wrong with liking nice things and wanting the finer things, but when it becomes an end, in and of itself, then it is a problem.

I guess I can sum up what I am trying to say by a quote from Og Mandino.  He said, “Let riches in your house, but not in your heart.” Selah. 

What does it profit a man to gain the world, but lose his soul?  Keep money in its proper place and do not be seduced by the pursuit of riches.  The best things in life really are free.

Much success.

Truth and Peace,

Steven M DeVougas

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2 responses to “The Cares of This World”

  1. Nicole says :

    “Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.”

    This line is especially provocative! Kris and I have had the discussion about building wealth and building up the Kingdom of God on numerous occasions. Can you do both? Or does one come at the expense of the other? I would like to think that you can do both. But I would imagine it is a tough balancing act to maintain.

    Building up the Kingdom of God encompasses so many things. Building character and wisdom in your children, who will ultimately serve your turn long after you are gone. Devoting your resources to advocating for the “least of these.” Living the Word of God and not just preaching it. I could go on and on. In his book, “Quiet Strength,” Tony Dungy said: “The purpose of life is not to be happy. The purpose of life is to matter, to be productive, to have it make some difference that you lived at all.”

    From this quote, I really started to think about whether you can truly be happy, in a worldly sense, AND simultaneously have it make some difference that you lived at all. Sometimes I think not. And to the extent that we THINK we can do both—be comfortable/happy and make a difference—perhaps we are fooling ourselves. And in the end we’ll realize that (once it’s too late, of course) when that lust for comfort walks grinning into our funeral…

  2. Kris says :

    Brother Steve,

    Nicole shared your latest post with me. Good stuff. As it turns out it is the same conversation I have been having with a close friend of mine. Money and its pursuit is a conflicting thing. I like nice things and I want to be financially successful but I have also read Proverbs and Ecclesiastes enough to know that the pursuit of money and its material offspring is a send off.

    Even on a less shallow level, i’d like to contribute to society- tree-hugger style- but i’d also like to be able to write a check for my kids to go to the schools of their choice and graduate debt free, free to contribute to the world without a worry as to how they will make their loan payments (i have a friend in that situation).

    Its hard to do both- good and write checks- and perhaps thats the point: we’re not supposed to. In the mean time, I can’t say that I am not still trying to figure out how. You mentioned that a lot of sisters want ambitious men, but ambitious men don’t have time for relationships. The same goes for “ambitious” fathers; they make bread but often times know their computer screens better than their kids because they have to work so much. I don’t want that.

    I think you will appreciate this passage from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. This piece is actually from the chapter on “Houses”, but it applies to this conversation about material pursuits as well, since the dream of the phat crib is generally the epitome of our material pursuit and desire:

    And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors?

    Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?

    Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?

    Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountain?

    Tell me, have you these in your houses?

    Or have you only comfort, and the lust for comfort, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and becomes a host, and then a master?

    Ay, and it becomes a tamer, and with hook and scourge makes puppets of your larger desires.

    Though its hands are silken, its heart is of iron.

    It lulls you to sleep only to stand by your bed and jeer at the dignity of the flesh.

    It makes mock of your sound senses, and lays them in thistledown like fragile vessels.

    Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.

    You can check the entire book online actually: http://leb.net/gibran/works/prophet/prophet.html

    Thanks for contributing to this important conversation.

    -Kris

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