When I was a kid, I have dreamed of having a private jet, exotic cars, a big boat, and all the other trinkets of luxury living. I can’t lie. I love super yachts, the experience of strapping in and taking off in a private jet, and definitely the g-force you get in an exotic car when it goes from 0 to 60 in a few seconds. I think I probably like it as much as any other guy. It’s not all about the money for me, but more the sense of the James Bond life of adventure. Come on. Admit it. Whether you are a male or female, exotic expensive things are appealing to the vast majority of people who live in the industrialized world.
For me, I think that maybe it’s a mixture of how and where I grew up, the culture I have lived in, the movies I have watched. James Bond aspirations or not, one thing is for sure. We live in a material world and material things seem to be the litmus test of whether or not a person is successful in life or not.
Let me make one thing very clear. Wealth (money) is not good or evil. It is the “love of money” that is evil. What is tragic about the material world we live in is that people often buy things that make them look successful and bring them pleasure at the expense of those things that are most important in life.
Whether it is our possessions, the clothes we wear, the car we drive, the house we live in, or even the kinds of friends we have, it all reflects on how we are perceived by those around us, BUT IT IS ALSO a reflection of the condition of our heart. Maybe you have seen this for yourself. With financial/material success, comes a certain mindset for most people, and it is not a pretty sight to behold.
It seems the more a person gets in life in the way of worldly success and material things, the more greedy they become, the more selfish they become, and the more prideful and judgmental they become of those who do not have as much they have. Truth be told, it is rare to meet an individual with substantial wealth who is truly a good steward of their resources and uses it for the good of others less fortunate than they are.
I am NOT saying that financial success is a bad thing or that all ‘rich people’ are greedy, stingy, and judgmental. I am Not saying that if you make a lot of money that wanting to bless and care for your family and loved ones is rooted in greed. What I AM saying however is that there is a place/time in our lives where we have achieved a level of financial success where our thinking should change in how we view the world around us and what our responsibility is to the greater good of mankind. We see this in many of the early 20th century industrialists who were benefactors to hundreds of organizations, civic projects, and social causes that have helped millions of individuals. They amassed great wealth and ultimately gave a considerable portion of it to philanthropic and humanitarian causes that helped make the world a better place.
Yes, it’s quite alright to endeavor to have plenty enough to take care of those we love, and to look after the needs of all those we care about around us. The Proverbs of Solomon – Wisdom – tells us clearly that a “A good man (wise man) leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous, (Proverbs 13:22). ” Certainly this is not a bad thing to want to take care of your family and the future posterity of your descendents. But when does financial success overstep its bounds and become idolatry towards the material trinkets of the world we live in?
We must challenge ourselves to ask of our hearts, “when does the blessing of God cause a our hearts to forget our Creator and choose to surrender to the god of mammon where filling our own lusts and feeding our human pride in life becomes the norm?” How do we keep our financial/material success in check in a material world? What do we do to prevent our hearts from becoming so cold to the heart of God for helping others that we become the living epitome of worldly living, i.e. “for everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world, (1 John 2:16).
As we grow into our fullest potential and see the fruit of our labors, let us never lose sight of the greater good in the world around us. I firmly believe that it is not government who is to care for the needs of the people, but the people who care for the needs of the people around them who are in need. Those who are blessed, helping, encouraging, and empowering those who are not financially or materially blessed to rise out of poverty and lack, and become productive members of society.
This boat represents to me a gross misuse of money (in my humble opinion). As a social entrepreneur, when I see boats like this, I see thousands of children that could be rescued out of sex slaver who are as young as three years old. I see thousands of small businesses being started by people who only need a little money to get things moving forward. I see shelters for the homeless. I see the costs of thousands of adoptions being paid for on behalf of married couples who want to adopt children instead of seeing them killed through abortion, but do not have enough money to pay for the costs associated with adopting.
When I see luxury lifestyles like this, I think of the hearts of those who are caught up in living lavish lifestyles not being able to see the needs of those around them in the world who they could make a positive and lasting difference in their lives. Yes, maybe one day I will rent a boat like this for the day just for the fun of it and invite all my friends to enjoy a fun day out on the water, but to buy something like this would be a total misuse of God’s blessing on my life.
So what can be done about the reality of the world we live in?
What will it take to change the mindset of big business and small business alike from stepping up and becoming responsible for the ills and injustices and the inequities that are found in the communities they live in?
What will it take for people of affluence and influence to bring about cultural change in such a way that it will make a lasting difference in the lives of millions of people who just need an opportunity and a hand up in life?
What will it take to make big government small again and big business to step up and be responsible in the communities they serve – bringing justice, equity, and help to those in need that have become dependent upon government to a place where it is easier for them to use the charity of others as their way of life?
Yes! I think it is a great thing to have goals in life and to make a ton of money along the way, but if we do so at the expense of our fellow humans and do not have balance in how we conduct the financial affairs of our lives, we will fall far short of God’s best for our lives.
Want to know where your heart is and what God thinks about it? Consider the words of Jesus Christ.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (see Matthew 6:19-21
“…For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” (see Matthew 25:31-46)
By all means, dream big and believe in your dreams. Surround yourself with wise counsel. Believe you can do anything you set your mind to, and with the help of God, you will prosper even as your soul prospers. BUT, do not forget why you have been placed here on earth and have come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as your Savior. It is not without great responsibility that wealth is given., How you make and spend your money will reflect the condition of your heart.