December 8, 1998
When a celebrity or famous person dies, some people must rub their hands together thinking how many ways they can make a profit from it. In the case of Diana, Princess of Wales, it seems the funeral had not begun before greedy profiteers were marketing souvenirs. One recent ad announced that Westminister Abbey is selling the chairs used during Diana’s funeral. They say they need the money.
Everyone “needs the money” or at least some money. It happens to be part of how we live but the question is: how much do we need? Probably a lot less than most of us think.
When the Lord grabbed hold of my life nearly thirty years ago, He had much to teach me about money. I’d been just about as greedy as the average person, but suddenly a single parent with limited funds. My grocery budget, augmented by a garden and a deer hunting license, was about $7 a week. When my parents shopped for me, they slipped in the odd item but we survived on that $7, with creativity and lots of macaroni and cheese.
Our family financial picture changed over the years but the Lord blessed me during that lean time by showing me He is in charge and He will take care of me. When there seemed no funds for necessities, He provided in unusual ways. Maybe someone bought one of my paintings or a monetary gift arrived in the mail. My budget was adequate in God’s hands.
This year brings another change. We moved to a new house and have not yet sold the previous one. People are praying it will sell but it seems God has a different plan. For one thing, this forced simplicity has helped us get off the fast track and more able to enjoy life.
Virtue is neither in poverty or riches but in contentment with what is available. The lie is that money will either purchase a sense of security or give those who have it a greater measure of power, not only over their own lives but over other people too.
Security is important. Maslow says our basic needs must be met or we will not feel secure. But Jesus made a promise concerning where we put our trust for the necessities of life. He said, “Do not worry about what you will eat or drink; or what you will wear. . . . but seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Maslow also says our emotional needs must be met. If we do not have someone to love and are love by someone, we will be insecure. Again, Jesus points us to a different source for this need. He says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. . . . Love each other as I have loved you.” The love we crave is found first in God and then in God’s family.
As for power, it is important only to those who do not realize their almost laughable limitations. Although the money moguls of the world can buy and sell whatever they wish, not one of them can make a seed sprout or stop the wind from blowing.
We have little or no control over almost everything. Control is only a delusion at worst, a privilege at best. God allows people a measure of responsibility, an arena to make decisions, so we can be a blessing or a tyrant, but if He wanted to, He could strip everything away from any one of us.
The people who make Diana dolls for a profit from pieces of her life are fooling themselves. Their money is fleeting and whatever things they buy with it, soon they want something bigger or better. They are like the man Jesus talked about who kept building bigger and bigger barns to hoard his crops. One day, he died and God called him to account about what he had done with the wealth God had entrusted to him. Sadly, he may have gained the world — but he lost his own soul.
The other option is giving our soul to Christ — and gaining His entire kingdom!