The best things in life are free. But you can give them to the birds and bees!
I want money. That’s what I want. That’s what I want.
Your love is such a thrill. But your love won’t pay my bills!
I want money. That’s what I want! That’s what I want!
Money don’t get everything, it’s true. What it don’t get, I can’t use!
I want money! That’s what I want! That’s what I want!
I want money! I want lots of money!
In fact, I want so much money! Give me your money! Just give me money!
– Berry Gordy Jr. & Janie Bradford, from “Money” (1959)
The nineteen-nineties brought the first flutters of the tech boom, and the earliest young tech nouveaux riches. We weren’t yet seeing tech billionaires, but we were beginning to feel the first giddy effects of so much sudden wealth in youthful hands as the earliest dot-com startups were being bought up by larger companies, or they were going public. And with it all came an extraordinary lesson in what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I wish I could remember this fellow’s name. I was paying so little attention at the time that I don’t recall now whether I read an article about him, or if I only saw him on a television segment, tracked down and dodging away from cameras as he said a few indignant words and rushed on. What I best recall is my wonderment that here was someone who was absolutely taking Jesus at His literal word. Omigod. Would I ever be able to follow Jesus to this man’s extent?
If I am remembering this whole story correctly, they were a group of college friends who had written a program and started a company that had been bought up by some bigger tech startup. Now they were suddenly what in those days passed for very rich indeed! I think they may have made as much as a hundred million dollars apiece. There were three of them standing there in the spotlight, raising glasses for the cameras and grinning. And there also was that odd man out, who was refusing to be interviewed, and who oddly was determined to give away almost all of his windfall. When a reporter tracked him down, he indignantly said that he would keep a small part of what he had earned, but he could never justify before God keeping all that money. Wow. Just… Wow.
Your first instinct may be to protest that since that young man had fairly earned his money, he had a perfect right to keep it. But in fact, the most difficult challenge that we can set for ourselves as part of any life-plan turns out to be wealth. Almost no one handles wealth successfully from a spiritual perspective. The late nineteenth century was another economic boom-time when there also were many newly wealthy people. And I recall that when I first was reading those many hundreds of communications received through deep-trance mediums more than a century ago which first convinced me that our lives are eternal, there was one poor fellow who stuck in my mind. He had chosen great wealth as his primary life-challenge, and then he had been devastated by just how badly he had handled his wealthy life-experience. He said to his family in the early twentieth century through a deep-trance medium soon after his death, “I really thought I could handle it! I thought I could do it! But I have set myself back by eons!” So, yes, that young man in the nineteen-nineties who was going to give away most of his wealth had fairly earned that money. True enough. But on the other hand, he was probably wise to have seen so much sudden wealth for the distracting spiritual poison that it was.
What follows the Lord’s Prayer in the Sixth Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is so important that we are going to spend a little time now with Jesus’s next words. He clearly means those words to support the Lord’s Prayer, and to literally be almost a part of the most popular prayer ever said by anyone. And furthermore, the words themselves are so beautiful! We shortchange ourselves if we don’t pause and savor them. Okay, so Jesus has just finished reciting the Lord’s Prayer for us for the very first time. And now He goes on to say:
14 “For if you forgive other people for their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive other people, then your Father will not forgive your offenses.
16 “Now whenever you fast, do not make a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they distort their faces so that they will be noticed by people when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 But as for you, when you fast, anoint your head with oil and wash your face, 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by people but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then, if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they? 27 And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Notice how the lilies of the field grow; they do not labor nor do they spin thread for cloth, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these! 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (MT 6:14-34)
Now Jesus stops speaking. And we sit with His words, feeling vaguely stunned by them. Can He really mean what He has said to us here? Actually, and quite literally, yes, Jesus does mean precisely what He has just said. Jesus considers wealth to be a nuisance distraction that risks coming between us and our ability to grow spiritually. And achieving optimum spiritual growth is the whole reason why we undertake these lives on earth in the first place! So before people of wealth can be welcomed by Jesus to be His followers, He first directs them to give away all their wealth. Just give it away. We see this happening repeatedly in the Gospels! Jesus sees wealth as a useless burden, a cancer, just a child’s shiny toy. Wealth to Jesus is a valueless distraction.
After those kids fresh out of college with their mega-windfalls first made their big news in the nineties, eventually the tech billionaires who followed them became a normal part of the twenty-first-century landscape. So by now, if we care to notice them, we can find examples here and there of the wisdom of Jesus’s warning about the distraction that wealth can be in people’s lives. We read about billionaires who own even three or four mega-homes and a mega-yacht besides. All because, I guess, why not?
The thing about having so much money is that it likely feels as endlessly abundant as time feels to us when we are very young. If you are so extremely wealthy, perhaps you just want to use up some of that money. But for all of us who are born on earth, life itself turns out to be amazingly brief. And it is briefer by far when you look back at it from where I am now than you can possibly imagine that it will be! Six decades. Nine decades. What is that? It is nothing, really, in the scheme of things. And if you have filled that time first with building wealth and then mostly with buying things, what kind of satisfaction is that going to bring when you look back at it after all the sands have slipped through the glass? As a friend of mine wisely says, “We spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff, and the second half of our lives getting rid of it.”
And Jesus says, 15 “Not even when one is affluent does his life consist of his possessions.” 16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 And he began thinking to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and I will store all my grain and my goods there. 19 And I will say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years to come; relax, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is required of you. And as for all that you have prepared, who will own it now?’ 21 Such is the one who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich in relation to God” (LK 12:15-21).
So that is the real problem with owning wealth. Wealth is a distraction from what is our lives’ real purpose, which is to raise our personal consciousness vibration so each of us can grow spiritually as rapidly as possible in the little bit of time that we will spend on this earth. The problem isn’t so much that it is shameful for you and me to be eating so well when in Africa the children are starving. It is our own free choice whether we will notice and be bothered by whatever is happening elsewhere in the world. No, the problem is that each day of our lifetime on earth is so precious because our whole life here is going to be so brief! The most vigorous and productive part of our life consists really of just a handful of years. And if you have spent your first few decades in building fabulous wealth, and then you spend another few decades in building and furnishing homes, until suddenly one night your life is required of you? What then really, in the end, was the point of your life?
Some years back, I interviewed a guest on my Seek Reality podcast who ran a European hospice. She just had written a book about what the people there had been saying to her at the ends of their earth-lives. And what fascinated me was that her patients, as they were approaching their deaths, didn’t regret never having had the luxuries that they never could have afforded to buy. Not at all. No, what they regretted, and often bitterly, was that they had not done more in their lives for other people.
And that is the worst word in the English language. “Regret.” It is the worst word in any language, no matter how you might translate it. Our Jesus would gently remind us that, yes, my dear ones, you do have forever in which you can grow spiritually! You always have been and you always will be.
But on the other hand, here on earth is the only place where you can find the great spiritual stressors that will help you to rapidly achieve real spiritual growth. And gaining another body on this earth in which to live some future lifetime when you might take more seriously the words of Jesus and your personal walk with God might not be such an easy thing for you to do. There are so many waiting beings now who seek to live earth-lifetimes that your wait for a new body to be born on earth may be a long one.
So please don’t waste this precious earth-lifetime on playing with the petty distraction of wealth! Instead, please raise your consciousness vibration now, and joyously, while you are here and you can do that so amazingly easily! And then, my beloved, when you arrive back home to your real life, which many of those on earth call the afterlife, you will have gained the spiritual power to easily mind-create a palace of solid gold to live in forever, if doing that still matters to you. Although, of course, Jesus is pretty sure that it never will matter to you at all. Not once you have raised your consciousness vibration enough to spread your spiritual wings and eternally own the whole sky!