Money does funny things to people. Even with small doses of an inappropriate drive for money, we can dissolve business relations, friendships, family relationships, and even marriages. It can lead to white knuckles as we hoard and protect. It can drive us to the love of power, prestige, and possessions. If we make money the master of our lives, it can quickly lead us to complete and utter ruin. The very currency we sought to gain will become the handcuffs and shackles that make us a prisoner to greed, materialism, and selfishness. I know this to be true because I myself am in a constant battle to overcome this misplaced devotion. I cannot stand in judgement when I share in the struggle.
I have also experienced glimpses of a better way! I find that I hold the seat of power over money when I love others more than my need for financial security. For those that profess faith, this includes and even begins with the love of a greater master. By placing one’s own dominion under the authority of another, freedom can be rescued from that which has been called the root of all evil. Even if faith is not a factor in your life, this concept of loving others more than things still makes pretty good sense.
Here’s why love breaks the chains. If I value my business relations, my friendships, my family relationships, and my marriage over money, my love compels me to be selfless, caring, and generous. These relationships become a greater priority to me than the hope of accumulating more or protecting what I have. The same principle is true for those who place trust in a Higher Power. With an appropriate attitude toward wealth, we find ourselves living for love rather than living for stuff.
It is not morally wrong to have great wealth. I have met poor people who are greedy and rich people who are loving. I’ve also met rich people who “need” more and poor people who are content with what they have. The difference between the greedy and the loving is not the size of their net worth but their relationship with it. Ask yourself, would you rather a. be materially rich and unhappy or b. be poor and content? (Ok. Let’s be honest, most of us would choose option c. rich and content.)
Here are a few more questions for self-reflection: What is your attitude toward and your relationship with money? To whom or what is your love directed? What drives your financial decisions?