Last week I watched the documentary Inside Job with my daughter Julia. Together we learned about the world of derivatives, greed, and selfishness. It’s the story of certain folks on Wall Street who let greed get the best of them, how they gambled (basically) with borrower’s money and ushered in the crash of 2008. The devastation that followed is something we still feel today. A few greedy people ushered in an economic collapse for many. And that is evil.
The documentary reminded me of some pointed verses in Ecclesiastes:
“Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep. There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry” (Ecclesiastes 5:10-17, NLT).
Amazing how the Scripture speaks to the greed today. I’ve often thought that if you peel away any social ill or injustice, you’ll find money at its root. Not money as a commodity, but the greed for it.
Why is that?
Because if you have money, you have control. And if you have control, you need nothing and you can be your own god. Money can buy healthcare, stability, and sometimes even relationships. But it cannot buy a peaceful, settled heart. Nor can it bring deep satisfaction in life. And the want of it causes man to do whatever it takes, even hurting other people, to get more. In that sense, folks can addict themselves to it.
I thank Jesus, honestly, that we lost our house a few years back to a conman. That lesson is one of the best, most important lessons I’ve ever learned: that my life is more than the things in it. It’s bigger than credit ratings, bills paid on time, and stability. Life is about exercising trust in the paradox. About believing, truly, that God is our provider. And that joy comes in the letting go of those things that bind you.
What about you? When have you learned that God owned everything? Has money satisfied you truly? When? Have you learned something important when you let go of money’s hold? What?