||2018-10-28 22:19:47, 조회 : 244, 추천 : 104
| Abraham Yim|
September 12th, 2018 - Wednesday
O. S. Guinness - Doing Well and Doing Good
Chapter One - Part Four - Money - Medium of Exchange or Mammon?
Hello, everyone. I hope we are all ready to have our minds widened because today we are going straight into the chapter. Today we have to understand the problem with money. What is the problem with money? O. S. Guinness opens up with a joke: “Comedian Jack Benny loved to tell the story of a mugger who accosted him and said, ‘Your money or your life!’ After an appreciable silence, the mugger says, ‘Well?’ And Benny replies, ‘Don’t rush me. I’m thinking, I’m thinking!’” This was to point out how integrated money is in our lives. We are so accustomed to the idea of money that we probably can’t imagine our lives without it. We have become financially obese, and we do not plan on stopping. We thirst for more in our pockets, and don’t even realize that our pockets have already bursted. We do anything for just another dollar, and Warren Buffet summarizes this by saying, “You won’t encounter much traffic taking the high road on Wall Street.”
We must go back to the question: what is the problem with money? We have to look at the two main problems of money, and then explain the two most important explanations of the problem. The first of the two problems is the insatiability of money. Money has always been described this way. The Bible describes the pursuit of money and possessions as “a chasing after wind.” Buddhists have viewed money as an eternal craving. The Seven Deadly Sins describe it as “avarice.” The Hebrews go one step further. The Hebrew word for money is kesef, which means “to desire,” or “to languish after something.” O. S. Guinness says, “Avarice is often confused with a Scrooge-like stinginess in hoarding but is better described as a form of spiritual dropsy or insatiable thirst… The insatiability touches two areas -- getting what we do not yet have and clutching onto what we do.” This obsession often leads people into dying before they even have the chance to enjoy the things they were clutching on to. This is because the insatiable love of money always points to another need, whether it is power, protection, approval, and so on.
As always, we look into a famous writer. Plutarch was a famous chroniclers of the ancient world. He is best known for writing The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. He was a famous teacher all-throughout Greece and Rome. His lectures were characterized by large crowds and attentive listeners. Plutarch looked up to philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, and he followed their teachings earnestly. In the following excerpt, Plutarch criticizes individuals that own and pursue more possessions than they need. He describes this kind of greed as “obscene and self-defeating nature of acquisitiveness.” Before we get into the text, O. S. Guinness provides us some quotes:
“The greatest wealth is to live content with little” -Plato
“Wealth obviously is not the good we seek, for the sole purpose it serves is to provide the means of getting something else.” -Aristotle
“Good God! How small a portion of the earth we hold by nature, yet we covet the whole world!” -Philip of Macedon, on being thrown in wrestling, as he turn and saw the imprint of his body
“The longer the rich man extends his colonnades, the higher he lifts his towers, the wider he stretches out his mansions, the deeper he digs his caverns for summer, the huger loom the roofs of the banquet-halls he rears, so much the more there will be to hide heaven from his sight.” -Seneca
“Accordingly, we find no vice so irreclaimable as avarice; and though there scarcely has been a moralist or philosopher, from the beginning of the world to this day, who has not levelled a stroke at it, we hardly find a single instance of any person’s being cured of it.” -David Hume
“Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of its filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it double and triples that want another way.” -Benjamin Franklin
We now go into Plutarch’s perspective on wealth. Plutarch starts us off with a scenario, “When some persons praised a tall fellow with a long reach as having the makings of a fine boxer, the trainer Hippomachus remarked: ‘Yes, if the crown were hung up and to be got by reaching.’” We can relate this to blessings such as possessions, money, and gifts. Many people think that great amounts of wealth can bring happiness, but Plutarch says otherwise: “‘Yes, if happiness were for sale and to be got by purchase.’” We hear this all the time: the idea that money can’t buy happiness. It seems like common knowledge at this point. Yet we still like to create this relationship between wealth and our mental well-being. However, when we have wealth, we may think that we are controlling wealth, but, in reality, we are the ones that are controlled by the things that we have. When we gain new items, we are simply led to gain newer items. We see an example of this thirst for more in the products we buy. We rarely take out loans for things we need: food, drink, protection from the elements. However, we give up our wealth for splendid homes and huge plots of land. We continuously spend money on things we don’t need. Plutarch says, “‘If a man eats and drinks a great deal but is never filled, he sees a physician, inquires what ails him, what is wrong with his system, and how to rid himself of the disorder; but if the owner of five couches goes looking for ten, and the owner of ten tables buys up as many again, and though he has lands and money in plenty is not satisfied but bent on more, losing sleep and never sated by any amount, does he imagine that he does not need someone who will prescribe for im and point out the cause of his distress?’” We have a problem: we have a figurative tapeworm when it comes to our hunger for the things of this world.
It’s hard to be above the wealth of the world. It is rare that we see self-control so in-tune with what we heard in our lesson today. However, a life of frugality is demanded of us. A servant would be punished for wasting the wealth of his/her master. We are our Lord’s stewards. All we have, and all that we will receive is through his grace. So we should start to live with his will in mind and not let our hearts take over.
1) Why do you think Warren Buffet says, “You won’t encounter much traffic taking the high road on Wall Street.”?
2) How does our society play a role in our lives, when we are buying things? (In what ways, are we encouraged to spend more?)
3) How do you believe we can fend off our urge for avarice?
4) Do you think it’s possible to live our lives as stewards of God? What are some ways we can implement stewardship ideals into our lives?