Wealth, like poverty, is not about money. Viewing wealth and money as synonyms greatly diminishes each of them.
Consider the person who has learned in business how to create economic wealth from a very small amount of money. Let’s say this person now has $20 million to their name. Would you say that a $20 million Lotto winner is equally wealthy?
This scenario illustrates that wealth is skill, not means. The two people in this example won’t make the same decisions with their $20 million and in ten years will not have equal money.
Wealth is decision making skill. Economic gain is a common byproduct of this skill, but not guaranteed.
Proverbs 10:15 says, “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city and the poverty of the poor is their ruin.” Money is the passport to experiencing a city, but it’s worthless on a deserted island. The wealthiest person on a deserted island the one with the decision making skills for thriving in that environment.
The wealthiest person in any situation is the one with the decision making skill. They understand something about the environment that others don’t. This may not be the same person who has all the power. Joseph was the youngest of 12 sons, a slave in Potiphar’s palace, a prisoner in Egypt, but was the wealthiest in each situation (Genesis ch. 30-50).
Now you can see why the Bible calls “decision making skill” wisdom. Wealth is wisdom. “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” (Proverbs 16:16)
Wisdom is not the accumulation of knowledge! Wisdom is the skill to use the knowledge we each possess. A child with small knowledge can be very wise and a learned professor with vast knowledge can lack wisdom.
From here we can see why economic gain follows wisdom (skill) in finances. In fact, the design of the world is to economically reward those with great skill. Skill (wisdom) prospers anything it touches. Thus our purpose is not to pursue riches, but to develop our skill. Most of us get this backwards. Money is a by-product, not an end-product.
To do this we must find that area where we are infused with talent and spend our life developing our craft so that we can bring it to the world in service. The diversity of the world creates the creative environment for beginners and experts to find expression of their gifts.
Your contribution doesn’t diminish mine, it expands it. Each contribution is generative and we expand one another. Our purpose is to engage, not compete. To serve the world with the most developed “US” we can bring. That is why disengagement is poverty. Jesus promotes this principle vividly in his Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Of course we must know who we are in order to do this.
Sadly, this process can be corrupted.
Some gain skill at doing evil. Some become masters at manipulation, control, oppression, and abuse. When this happens, the generative flow of production slows as the evil plunder the world for personal gain and ego. Competition and scarcity replace service and abundance. There is always a skillful hacker who could otherwise use that wisdom for the good of others.
Yes evil exists. But only because confusion exists. Confusion is the byproduct of poverty. Poverty is the suffering of not knowing oneself. By contrast, we cannot have more wealth than the knowledge of ourself. As we gain inner awareness (spirituality) we gain wealth (skill). While evil exists and sells our news machine, it is the minority and it will be short lived.
“Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.” (Proverbs 22:16)
The design and true flow of the world is to bring our unique gifts to bear and to spend our life developing them for the sake of others. These are the rails of true commerce and social engagement. Suffering is the confusion that results from veering from this course. It’s exciting to watch the wave of conscious capitalism emerging all over the world. Nothing has relieved the suffering of the economic poor more than conscious capitalism.
“One gives freely yet only grows all the richer, another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” (Proverbs 11:24)
Since wealth and wisdom are skills, every decision before us each day is a gift that will move us into or out of conformity to the Truth. “The rich and poor meet together; the Lord is the maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22:2) No one is exempt from this process, though we start in different places. One good decision begets another and so does the bad decision. All we have is our next decision. Will we squander it or invest it?
Wealth and poverty are not destinations, but places from which we make our choices.