For most of my life I believed that money was important because it took money to acquire the things that we need and desire. While there is no doubt that having money greatly enhances our ability to provide necessities and pleasure for ourselves and for our families, there are plenty of wealthy people who would give all of the money they have in exchange for good health, loving relationships or just plain peace of mind. Money is useful in obtaining things but things are not all they are stacked up to be.
But that understanding about money is why we spend so much of our time thinking about and working for money. And it is why so many of us really believe that the quality of our lives is dependent upon the amount of money that we have. But after many years of earning money, wasting money, studying money and speaking about money, I have come to learn that money is actually much more important than simply being a means of buying things. Money is important because it functions as a primary object lesson in our mission to maintain control over our lives.
That is what goal setting seeks to accomplish – to gain and maintain control over our own lives. Handling money functions as both the development and execution of life management principles. I have learned that when I am handling my money well, I am also handling my life well. And it does not matter how much money is involved.
The need for a means of exchange to buy and sell goods is as universal as the air that we breathe. Everyone on the planet has a need that requires exchanging something that they have for something that they need. Currency and its derivatives represent the most frequently used means of exchange today. Which means that if there is a need for a universal message or lesson to be taught to humans, money is the best object lesson since it is the most universally present reality that there is. That is why the Bible speaks so much about money. Some would have us believe that the Bible mentions money often because God expects everyone – at least all people of faith – to be rich. The problem with that thinking is that it ignores Jesus’ words in Luke 16 where he clearly distinguishes between money and “true riches.”
There is no reason to believe that God forbids anyone from having money and a lot of it. But the Biblical references to money have much more to do with using money to invite people to meaningful living and effective life management than anything else. Sloppy money management usually accompanies sloppy life management. But when we budget our money we are more likely to also budget our time. When we donate our money we are more likely to also share our lives. When we resist the temptation to worship our money we will also be better able to resist the temptation to fall in love with other physical possessions. The love of money is the root of all evil and the mastery of money is the pathway to living really good lives.
Tomorrow – Living Outside of the Box