In my last post I gave a review of my friends new book Junkyard Wisdom. Today let me share with you a portion of the book where Roy addresses Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler in Mark 10. He wrestles with how this conversation relates to his own life as a wealthy man.
‘You’re still missing one thing, though, Roy. Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor. You’ll get your treasure back in heaven. And then come follow me.’
That is an answer. Even a seemingly easy one. My life is a wrestling match, so it would be simpler to give it all away. But simple isn’t a synonym for best or wisest.
Say I wake up tomorrow morning and decide to give it all away. Say I can somehow give all of my money to organizations and individuals who are making a tangible difference in the world, and that there are no unintended negative consequences or harm. That’s impossible, by the way, but for the sake of argument, say I figure it out. I’ve broken the power of wealth in my life the only way that works: by giving it away. As Andy Crouch writes, ‘the only real antidote to the temptations of money is lavish generosity.’ Consider the antidote administered.
I wake up the next morning as a cured man. And I have to admit: it feels good! Much better than the constant wrestling and reevaluating that usually describes my relationship with wealth. I eat a simple breakfast, and then I go to work.
I spend the first hour on the phone with my employees – scratch that, former employees – telling them they’re going to have a new boos or else they’ll need to find a new job. Then I begin calling my tenants, but this takes me a lot longer. I own – sorry, used to own – residential, commercial, and light industrial properties in a 150-mile radius. I notify everyone to expect some changes, some of which will undoubtedly be for the worse, since I consider myself to be a fair boss and a just landlord.
As the day ends, I sneak in a call to my accountant and my financial advisor. They’ll survive without my portfolio, of course, but will the client who replaces me ask them to make ethical decisions like I used to?
You tell me: would those (direct) dozens and (indirect) thousands of people affected be better off? Some might counter that different lives would be better off if I gave everything away. That might be true, though it’s setting a hypothetical good against an actual, known good.
And what about me? Would those relationships in my life be replaced with relationships that are as holy or more holy?
So the wrestling continues.
What do you think? Let me know. If you’re interest is piqued, please go out and buy Junkyard Wisdom