I’m asking myself a difficult question: Why do we want to acquire wealth? Why is it that we always want more than the next guy? Certainly, we are influenced by our American (or more broadly, Western) culture. Its a status thing, I suppose. But then why do we chase status? Why does American Consumerism exist in the first place? What could be the source of it, if not that it is a human condition? If I stop and think about it, really think about it, its not really wealth that I am chasing, but something that I expect wealth to supply me. Wealth is the means, not the ends. Money is, after all, something that human societies have constructed. Its simply something we use to make transactions and trades for the other things we want. If the sole and original purpose of money is to give it away in return for something else, then it cannot be money we are after, because it would hold no value to us if it could not be used to gain something else.
The better question then becomes: What do we want to acquire? This is different for everyone. Some are looking for admiration, others for security and safety, and others significance. Money can seem to satisfy these desires, at least for a time, but even those that have a surplus have stated that their surplus does not fulfill their desires.
For the Christian, another question crops up: What does God want us to acquire? Christ calls us to store up treasures in heaven, but what exactly does he mean by this and how does it apply to our lives today? It can’t possibly mean that we are not supposed to store up anything. Proverbs calls him who saves wise. So in practice, there must be a balance. There is a tension presented in Scripture – it is wise to save for the future, yet at the same time, we should not be storing up “treasures” here on Earth. I highlight the word “treasure” because I think it is the key to understanding this text: treasure does not have to mean money, necessarily.
This is just the tip of of a very large iceberg. Volumes have been written on the philosophy of finance from a Christian perspective. I’m just getting started.