Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Misunderstanding of Wealth

Many, if not most, people misunderstand the proper concept of wealth. Sadly, this includes a great number of Christians. Most people interpret wealth as luxury, whereas the bible interprets it as responsibility. Luxury can be viewed as the absence of responsibility.

Since the world lusts after wealth in the form of luxury, many Christians' reactionary tendencies take the form of viewing wealth itself in terms of the world's lust. Wealth is therefore often avoided, sometimes at all costs. "New houses, new cars, who needs that? It's all going to burn up anyway" is a common sentiment I hear from Christians. Many Christians wrongly judge other Christians for the wealth they possess. I often wondered why, in the parable of the talents, Jesus took the talent from the one who buried it in a napkin and gave it to the one with ten talents instead of the one with five. Now I understand it's because the one with ten talents is the most responsible one.

Also, eating from the fruits of one's own labor, even if the harvest is overflowing, is perfectly biblical. I always hear Christians slander wealthy athletes for their large houses, large paychecks and material things, as if those things were evil in and of themselves. "That money could have been used for better things." These people are ignorant in that they don't understand the (God created) laws of economics. If a millionaire athlete builds a huge house, many poor and middle-class people are fed through the wages paid to them for their labor in building and maintaining his house. Carpenters, electricians, all kinds of trades are involved. There are common laborers that shovel up the crud at the end of the job who get to eat and feed their loved ones. If that isn't mercy, I don't know what is. I suppose the ignorant Christians would rather these people go hungry than see an athlete (especially a Christian one) enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Even in the enjoyment of that fruit there exists godly, biblical responsibility to the glory of God. I sometimes shudder at the possibility that "Christians" who misinterpret godly responsibility as greed, and shun responsibility for themselves as a result, will be the ones who will hear Jesus say, "I never knew you."

1 comment:

  1. "Now I understand it's because the one with ten talents is the most responsible one." (Steve)

    Now define responsibility in that sentence?

    I have a tough time with capitalism and the idea of wealth. Mainly because I grew up in a poor place - with the rest of community. I think this idea varies quite a bit depending on community you reside in.

    I mean as of now I am working on buying a house and I have a computer, video games, a karaoke machine, tv, etc. One might say I have more than I really need and they would be right in that. None of these things are absolute essentials but some do make like a little easier (or funner).

    But where I place my value in this is helping others to the point I have helped myself - or at least try to help on some level. I recall this ideal also 'unto the least of these' or 'just because I am not poor anymore doesn't mean others are not'. I see a lot of that idea in the gospels - and I think - on some level there has to be more to the talents story and responsibility.

    Just what are we to make of responsibility within a Capitalist system where the wealthy 5% burden the not so wealthy 95%? I am not calling for Socialism or anything but maybe us with some dimes in our pockets can help alleviate the burden the poor already have placed upon them?