Christmas Message: The Cost of Wealth

Tina Haapala |

Let’s call this my “Sorta-Annual Christmas & New Year’s-Message.” Christmas, because I mention Bible verses. New Year’s, because you can use it for a resolution. Both, because we’ve landed between the two events.

In Matthew 16:26, Mark 8:36, or Luke 9:25, the passages say something like this:

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Or, what thing, power, position, possession, award, or amount of money is worth more than you are? Yes, I know that there are altruistic reasons for giving your life for a cause or another, but the context of this verse is whether it is worth it to corrupt yourself for selfish gain.

Let’s face it, some people would say “yes”. There are many tales and a few movies…often comedies…that show a person literally selling his soul to the Devil in exchange for riches or power.

This is one of those times when you can’t blame the “selfish” generations that follow yours. No, all generations seem to have this tendency. We all want it, we want it all, and we want it now; and we’re willing to bend a few rules, or as Scarlet so aptly put it, even lie, steal, cheat, or kill to get it.

While we covet power, sex, land, and position, in most cases money is the object of affection. This should not be news to you. We’ve all heard stories of elected officials caught with cash stuffed in their freezers, employers cheating their workers out of pay, businesses cutting so many corners that the result literally kills their customers, and folks robbing everything and everybody to make the victim’s cash their own.

Now, it is doubtful that you have been tempted, or succumbed to the temptation to lower your ethical standards and personal morality to engage in such extremes. But people rarely lose their way by starting with an extreme. Instead it is usually the little things. A small loan you didn’t pay back. A few dollars you found that end up in your pocket without searching for the owner. Some false expenses claimed or income not on your taxes. An hour or two reported on your time card when you weren’t really on the clock.

They won’t notice. It’s not that big a deal. They’ve got plenty. The excuses and justifications flow effortlessly.

Is it really worth your integrity, your soul, for a bit more wealth?

Of course, the Biblical passages mentioned above talk about more than petty theft or a power grab. The Bible speaks literally, not figuratively, about losing one’s soul in the process of worldly gain. But I think it can be instructional whether or not you believe the religious connotation. If you believe that the one who dies with the most toys wins, are you also willing to believe that it’s worth the cost? As we finish up this holiday season, let’s resolve to remember the wealth that lies beyond money—that which comes from our family, friends and our faith. Happy New Year!