I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people who aren’t sure that focusing on attaining wealth is a good thing to do. This seems to be especially true of Christians and other people who are socially minded. Hopefully, we all at least agree that a budget is necessary, but how far should we go? Some of the questions/arguments I’ve heard include:
I’m already so much better off that 90% of the world, isn’t that good enough?
Isn’t it just selfish to want to be rich?
The Bible tells us that we can’t serve God and money; isn’t this the same thing?
If I were to be rich, I would just feel guilty about it.
I think it’s more important that I donate my money than it is to invest.
The list could go on.
To be honest, I have certainly struggled with many of these same questions at one point or another. After all, rich people are often viewed as being primarily selfish in our community. Everyone wants to be rich, but many people still seem to think that being rich is just a little too dirty. They would prefer to settle for the mediocre. It’s easier, in any case.
An important question
Answering the first question is, for me, very easy. Yes, I want to be wealthy. Answering why is a little harder to quantify. However, let me give you an example:
The other day, I was talking to someone I see on a regular basis. She’s going through a rough time financially, not because of bad choices, but because her husband has been without a job for a while. Know anyone like her? Unsurprisingly, even in times of joblessness, bills still come due.
Sure, you could make the argument that she is only in this situation because she and her husband failed to set up an adequate emergency fund. They could have been more prepared. I didn’t care about those details. Hearing about her situation, my first thought was an overwhelming desire to provide for the immediate needs of her family. This is a temporary setback for them, so there is no fear of enabling a pattern of behavior or anything. A one-time gift could make all the difference in the world while her husband continues to very actively seek employment.
The good news is that I can probably afford to give a one time gift. The bad news is that the gift I can afford is far less than the amount I would like to give. There just isn’t enough room in my budget. Sure, I have some money set aside for other purposes, but I’ve learned that giving to the point that it puts your own family’s financial stability in trouble is not a good idea either.
This is why I want to be wealthy. I want to spend a lifetime saving money so I can give it away in perpetuity. I want to be able to, after hearing about a need, provide the funds necessary for the situation. I want money to cease to matter in the sense that no 1 (or 10!) extra expenditure can damage my family’s financial stability.
So, now what?
I’m going to continue saving and investing so that, one day, I will be wealthy enough to give to my heart’s content. In the meantime, however, I’m going to discuss with my wife how much we can afford to give; it won’t be much, but it just might be enough. Then I’m going to send a gift to someone who needs it.
Have you ever been on the giving or receiving end of a financial gift in a time of need? Please share about your experiences in the comments!
Photo by mag3737.