The 1%, absolute poverty, and Monopoly


We all know this person. They are always bragging about all the cool stuff they have, and worse, how much money they make. Something about that does not sit right with me. One of my “rich friends,” part of the 1% once lamented to me the fact that no one ever took their advice on how to make money.

I asked him if he had ever played Monopoly before. I then explained to him what economists call the Matthew Effect and why it happens. The Matthew Effect is the idea that the rich get richer while the poor get poorer and it comes from Jesus’ statement in Matthew 25:29 when he says,


“For unto everyone who has, more shall be given and he shall have an abundance: but he who has not, even what he does have shall be taken.”

I explained that the reason this worked out like this was, that as someone is successful their chances at future success rise. It works like compounding interest until everything they touch turns to gold. Unfortunately, it also works the opposite way in that each time someone fails, their next failure will come that much faster. This is the reason for the Pareto Principle which says that 20% of the people own 80% of the stuff. My friend was definitely part of the 20%.

Then they said something that threw me for a loop and I could not stop thinking about it. They told me that they had no passion, literally that they were excited about nothing.

But no one is without a passion. It usually becomes apparent the more time you spend with someone. My friend’s passion was making money. This is actually something that is not uncommon for men. Many will sacrifice their family for it, which is a sad pattern I have seen played out again and again throughout my short 35 years. (I am still young!!!)

Is seeking material comfort and ease really a problem though? The Bible says the love of money is the root of all evil but what exactly does it mean? There are really two parts to this. There is the love of what that money can do for you. The things that it can do for you are not as obvious as you might think. On the one hand, it could be a big house, big car, boats and the like. On the other hand it could also be in the wishing for and working towards those things. (It can also be hard to tell when someone who has these things actually loves them, so as a precautionary measure, do not try to decide if they fall into this class.)

The second way that the love of money can dig its tendrils into someone’s life is by loving the status that comes with being rich. They want someone to like them or think well of them because they have money. This reminds me of an episode called Three Hundred Big Boys, on the show Futurama.

ZoidburgIn this episode all of the characters in the Futurama world get 300 free dollars and decide to do various things with the money. One character decides he wants to have the appearance of having money so he goes to an art exhibit to show off his money. As foolish as this seems, this is what we must appear like to God, especially when we think that our success or money have anything to do with us.

Why is it so important that we get this right?

1 – It keeps us relying on others.

The absolute bane of the Christian life is believing that we are self-sufficient. Having this attitude towards money is a guarantee that it will eventually seep out and affect all other areas of life. Instead, each of us should learn to rely on others’ wisdom and counsel for our life decisions.

2 – It keeps us relying on God.

This is more serious than the first point. God wants us to trust in Him. One of the reasons that Christianity is such a great religion is that it has nothing to do with us. God chooses poor miserable wretched people and makes great things out of them. This is done so that God will get the glory and not us. How much do you think that believing we are something because of our money is working against this?

There are not 2 commandments more important than to love God and love others. We cannot do this if we have the love of money inside us. The Bible is very clear on this.

Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will love the one and hate the other or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

This is the challenge, for those who have money as well as those who do not. Serve God with an open hand. If you have resources, use them to serve God and others, if not, look at it as an opportunity to learn to trust God as your provider.

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