Money is a strange thing. People do a lot for money. Some people will do anything for money. In some circles they believe that everyone has a price. The most dangerous person, according to those guys, is someone who doesn’t. Then there’s those righteous folks who go around saying, “money is the root to all evil.” I grew up in the midst of both extremes and all I wanted to be was good. I wanted to be good in the eyes of God and that meant everything to me. As a result, I had a very dysfunctional relation with money for a very long time.
On the one hand, I was always very good at making money. On the other hand, I always gave all my money away. I never wanted to feel any sort of attachment to wealth and frankly I never did. Despite that, I got a lot wrong. Never adopt beliefs that are unfounded. Being godly isn’t the same like being stupid. I was godly, but in my zealous pursuit of God, I was also stupid.
I grew up on a healthy dose of stories about godly men who were all basically poor. They all lived on or below the breadline and they more or less shunned a worldly life. Jesus (peace be on him), I was told, lived hand to mouth, as did Muhammad (peace be on him). These were the role models for humanity and if anyone got things right it would have had to be them, right?
It was only very late in life, believe it or not, that I came to a very important realisation. I was not commissioned by God to give forth unto the world universal guidance to save humanity. I was not Jesus or Muhammad, Prophets charged with the greatest mission. No, I was a guy trying to survive in a world where if you don’t have money you might actually find yourself dead on the pavement.
In some parts of this world, money is part of what offers you security. You could live in a terrible neighbourhood where your kids won’t likely make it past the age of twenty because of gang violence, or you could buy a house in a leafy suburb where the kids are trying to get into the top universities.
I’ve learnt the hard way that those people who constantly say, “money doesn’t matter” are wrong. They are wrong because when I didn’t have money, I didn’t have food. They are wrong because without money I could not be sitting here typing on my MacBook Air in a warm apartment. They are wrong, because without money my children are not likely to get a good education, grow up in a safe environment and take their lives to the next phase. Money does matter. Money isn’t the root to all evil. Evil people do evil things for money and with money. Good people do good things with money.
My good friend and I once helped a girl escape from an abusive employer. We wouldn’t have been able to do it if we didn’t have money. Similarly, the numerous charity organisations would not be able to run without funding. In fact, not even a church or mosque can stand without funding. Even the institutions of God need money to run. I haven’t yet seen any people get married without having money. I haven’t seen people do pilgrimages to the sacred places without money.
I adjusted my philosophy from asceticism to realism. I believe that anyone who has the aptitude to make truck loads of money, should do so. There’s nothing wrong with it in the least. Ethical questions often relate to how people earn a living and what they spend their money on. Money is really only as good as what you can get for it. How you spend your money counts for a lot. What is your relationship with money like?
I recommend that you have a budget. Try living below your means at all times. If you earn $1500 a month, try to keep your expenses below $1000. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, but it is very difficult to help yourself out of poverty without a surplus. Put aside some money for charity too. It doesn’t matter how little you give, it’s an investment for the future. I call it ‘your bank account with God.’ What goes around really does come around. You want to be blessed in your money, and blessings are really uncountable. There’s always a wild card waiting to happen and there are always one hundred and one things that can go wrong. Do you really want to ignore help from the unseen?
Some of the elders got it right, I reckon, when they cautioned us against greed. I think that’s what they meant when they spoke negatively about money. Money provides you with certain necessary things and then some. However, always keep in mind what it is you want to accomplish with the money you earn, and don’t make the money itself your goal. Have a goal that you are saving towards. Preferably, your goal should provide you with even better ways to earn a lot more money. Let money be of service to you and don’t become a servant to it. Money matters, if you can make a truck load, more power to you!