• Edwin Lin

PHF Week 2: $$$ vs. Humility (Ecclesiastes 10)

I wanted to write a little about the issue of Money--with the backdrop of knowing that the ultimate goal is to consider how patience, humbleness, faith, and love work in opposition to a life of Money.

When I talk about Money here, I don't just mean cash, or the physical existence of money, but rather, I mean the ethos around Money--the god of Money. In the bible, this Money is often translated to either the god of Money, greed, or the love of Money, but I think that is still not quite descriptive of what I think of when our modern society's view of Money. Yes, with Money comes an attachment of greed and love, but it is even more than that. It is how our world and everything in it revolves around Money. After all, "Money makes the world go round."

Ecclesiastes captures it well (10:19) - "A feast is made for laughter, wine makes life merry, and money is the answer for everything."

There are many things that look like it has nothing to do with Money, but actually, Money is the answer for everything. I am speaking here even about things that look good on the surface, for example, the desire to provide for your family, to create financial stability, and even to give Money to the poor to help others. Money becomes a god in our lives when it becomes the "everything"--when our lives all end up revolving around Money.

I guess what this looks like is that people start making all of their decisions based on money. Whether they go out to eat or go home, whether they hang out with friends or not, whether they decide to take a job or quit their job, whether they decide to serve in church or not, that somehow, the issue of money rears its ugly head and is somewhere in the decision making process. And even when we think that it's more about not wanting to go to a movie or not feeling like hanging out with friends, I wonder if the activity was free, would we go any way. If we would, it definitely reveals that Money is somewhere in there and is a stronger presence in our lives than we may have initially thought.

I certainly see Money coming into play as I am searching for jobs. The desire to be impatient, to just go out and find the first job that comes around is all because I really want to start making money. In fact, I've said things like I would start seminary if I find a job almost because I want to justify my desire to earn money, "Hey, it's not bad to earn money because I will use it to do something ministry oriented and godly." But again, whether I attend seminary or not shouldn't be about the money!

Along with this feeling of finding a job, there is the issue of worth. In our society, it seems like not making money is really looked down upon--that we're not useful or worthy if we have no job and aren't making enough money to sustain our living. So as I am job searching, I definitely feel like I need to find something very soon because of the fear of being unemployed too long and becoming worthless in the eyes of Money.

Also, there is definitely a sense of pride when it comes to making a lot of money. As I look at the different salaries of different jobs, it becomes clear that higher paying jobs are seen as more prestigious and meaningful. Even if you work in an atmosphere where there is supposed to be no hierarchy (the modern or new workplace), Money makes an appearance and essential determines your worth and where you are on the hierarchy regardless of whether there is supposed to be one or not. And not to mention, there is just pride in "earning" your money--that you earned it and worked hard for it and that you are the provider of yourself or others.

And related to that, Money is in some ways the opposite of faith. If you define faith as belief in things unseen, everything about Money (read: the ethos of money) is about that which is tangible. You get paid what you are worth. Your work is valued and a dollar amount is assigned to its value. Money is how you secure your livelihood. The world runs on money so you have to have it. You can do so much with money--change people's lives with it. Money is seen as the silver bullet to society's problems. It's kind of crazy, but it is definitely everywhere.

And yet throughout the Bible, God tells us over and over that we need not concern ourselves with this earthly, deceitful force called Money. He tells us that we aren't to live for it--that we aren't to try to make more of it. He says that God is our "Money"--He is what makes the world go round, and He is the force for change that moves the eternal world. God is our source of Money and He is an infinite source. There is no scarcity with God, like there is with Money. God gives us a freedom that lets us live without Money on our minds--it need not factor in every decision we make, like it so often does.

Money is empty, but God is full. Money cannot fulfill, but God gives us a wellspring of life bubbling up within us. Money is scarce, but God is infinitely abundant. Money is temporary, but God is eternal. Money is earned, but God's grace is beyond free. Money is what we can see, but God is unseen and wants us to see the unseen. Money is about control, but God is about surrendering ourselves to Him. Money is the antithesis of God, and God is the antithesis of Money.