When we were wealthy Canadians I never really thought much about money. We lived comfortably, but not laviously, and it was always just there.
Now we have become struggling Americans and it has forced my to think more about money – not just in an accounting sense, but inevitably – given my temperament – in a philosophical sense, as well.
America has been the land of opportunity until recently, and has produced men known as great philanthropists. Most of these early men gave deliberately from Christian conviction. Even their modern counterparts, I would say, give based on ‘Christian memory’ if not active personal persuasion of Christian truth.
But here is the rub for me.
Since living here, we have had direct or indirect contact with two philanthropists who actively profess Christ. And they both have business practices that range, it seems, from illegal to unsavory.
But they give away lots and lots of money.
If God really means it (and I assume he does!) when he says, “The stone will cry from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond” against ‘evil gain’, then such men are in trouble. Their good works can’t atone for injustice, can’t buy God off.
Having said this, I am sure there are many godly men in this country who make sizeable fortunes legitimately, and handle their money well.
Still, I have come to see the essential strength of the church here, and in Canada, for that matter, in this way:
It rests in the decisions of everyday people making everyday choices but in a heavenly way.
It is the father who decides early on he will cap an otherwise brilliant career because he has a large family and they are his priority. It is the young couple who decide they will not opt for a prestigious position that could potentially threaten their marriage. It is the small businessman, again with a large family, who pays his employees more than the wealthy philanthropist because he wants them to have a living wage. It really matters to him.
These are the backbone of the church, aren’t they? ‘Ordinary’ people making decisions at personal cost because of a compelling desire to please God and invest in eternal wealth.
How does it go? “That men is no fool who gives what he can’t keep to gain what he can’t lose”?
I am sure you know it!
And it is beautiful to both God and man.