Here’s an interesting quote from an Austrian reportedly giving up his $5.3m fortune:
”For a long time I believed that more wealth and luxury automatically meant more happiness….But over time a conflicting feeling developed…I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish for or need.’ (Source: smh.com.au)
Giving up wealth is difficult. A rich young man went away from Jesus sad, unwilling to relinquish the hold his wealth had on him (Matthew 19: 16-30). The Austrian man recognised he had become a ‘slave’ to his pursuit of possessions.
The Bible sees money as one of many potential ‘idols’ – things we view as ‘ultimate things’, things we look to for happiness, meaning, identity, hope, security or fulfillment, things that ultimately enslave or control us. Three main things we do with our ‘idols’ are: love them, trust them, and obey them. Ironically, it is possible to give up your wealth, yet still not be happy. You can give up money, but simply be trading your love/trust/slavery of money for love/trust/slavery of something else. Idols cannot be removed, only replaced.
Christians recognise that the idol of money can only be replaced by Jesus. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to be generous, by pointing them to the spiritual riches they now enjoyed through the gospel of Jesus. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Jesus gave up all his treasure in heaven, in order to make you his treasure – for you are a treasured people (1 Peter 2:9-10). When you see him dying to make you his treasure, that will make him yours. Money will cease to be the currency of your significance and security, and you will want to bless others with what you have. To the degree that you grasp the gospel, money will have no dominion over you. Think on his costly grace until it changes you into a generous people (Tim Keller, Counterfeit gods, 67).