In part 1 of this series, we discussed how the wealth that our bank accounts and investment updates show us is not really real. We also covered some practical ways that we can build wealth which don’t rely on the larger economy to maintain their usefulness.
If you haven’t read part one, please go do so now.
In this article, I want to go a bit deeper. You may have gotten the feeling that, although you could put a certain amount of money into savings by buying food, capital assets, land, and valuables, that, ultimately, it will wind up being very hard to manage. That, actually, is true. An abundance of wealth is always hard to manage. That is part of our current problem – people want to offload the difficulties of having a lot of money. Do you know what happens when people offload the difficulties of having money? It gets stolen right out from under you.
A moderate amount of money is relatively easy to keep track of. If I have $10,000, it might get stolen, but I’m not really big enough of a target for someone to pull off an Ocean’s 11 type of heist. Likewise, if instead of cash, I have $10,000 spread across stored food, jewelry, cash, ammo, and some capital equipment for my house, that will last a long time and be of benefit to me the whole time, without being overly burdensome.
However, if I have $10,000,000, it changes things quite a bit.
Now, if I have the money in an easy-to-access form (i.e. gold coins), it is also an incredibly easy target to steal. If I store it in dried food, how do you even manage to store that? This is the conundrum that the rich man had in Luke 12:16-21:
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.
There are several interesting aspects about this parable. First of all, in this parable, Jesus did not say that saving up money was hurting others. Who did it hurt? It hurt the rich man. In fact, it helped the poor, because he couldn’t use all of his grain, and when he died, it went to everyone else. In fact, in Proverbs 13:22 it says that “a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous”. How does this work? Let’s say that you have $100,000,000 in the bank. What does that represent? It represents $100,000,000 that you earned but have not spent. In other words, you have contributed $100,000,000 to the economy without taking from it. If you are greedy and are chasing this number higher, you will never be satisfied, but you will indeed wind up helping out the poor. But you will not help yourself.
So what does Jesus suggest? Being rich towards God. Jesus also mentions this in Matthew 6, and deals with the very same conundrums about wealth that we are facing here:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
In other words, all of the hassles of storing up wealth are merely the result of storing up the wrong kind of wealth. If I need a sandwich, I need dollar bills. If I need to save a little money, I should invest in silver coins. If I need to save larger amounts of money, I should invest in gold coins or land. However, if I want permanent wealth, I need to shift my investment focus.
In the next part, we will look on how to do this practically.