“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold” – Proverbs 22:1
“If I just had a little more money…this wouldn’t feel so hard. The decisions wouldn’t be so difficult. Life would feel easier. I’d be able to enjoy myself more often.” Have you ever thought that? Of course not. Only greedy and superficial people think that way, right? What an absurd notion. I would venture to say that if you haven’t had these thoughts, I question whether you are a mature, reasoning adult.
Money seems to make everything easier. We even have plenty of proverbs that tell us exactly that. (“Wealth brings many new friends, but a poor man is deserted by his friend.” – Prov 19:4) Money serves as a shortcut to power, influence, attractiveness, ease, comfort, security, and confidence. In short, wealth is the currency of our desires. It offers access, even if only indirectly, to the things we want most in life. So what do we do with this desire for wealth? If you struggle with greed (which we all do), then how do you re-orient, and ultimately find relief for your discomfort? Hint: the answer won’t be a debt/ investment strategy, as useful as those may be.
When God handles the topic of money in the Bible, the amount is never an issue of moral significance. God alerts us to the fact that there tend to be different blessings associated with both ends of the spectrum. The key to understanding and disarming our greed is digging a little bit deeper. Why do you want more money? What is it that you hope to gain as a result of having more resources? That is the real question. That is the question that presses us to the level of desires. Once we get down to desires, we are able to engage with re-orienting good news.
God speaks to our misplaced desires in a persuasive and winsome tone. After all, He’s the one who has given us desires in the first place. Desires are not bad. The desire for security, or influence, or approval is not wrong. God points us higher. “Choose a good name,” He says. “Choose favor.” These are things that last. These are the higher shelf things that you really should want, that will get you where you want to go. A good name and favor are things that cannot be bought, not truly. If you try to buy your way toward a good name, or bribe your way into someone else’s favor, then the name you get or the favor you get will be tied to your money, not you. It’s the dirty trick money plays on you at the very end. If you try to use it to buy your core value, you’ll find the attributes or respect that you bought never quite stick to you. They are on rent, subject to conditional terms.
The name we get as Christians is given to us by God. It’s the name of Jesus. It is given freely. That name transforms our value and our worth instantly, and it’s permanent. The favor we get was purchased for us by Christ. We will never add to it, and we can never diminish that favor. God speaks to our greed, and says, “Not that way. I’ll show you how to really get what you want. I’m ready to give it to you freely.” It’s our job to listen and believe.