Wealth Inequality in America: Is it Wrong to Be Wealthy?

After fighting Marxists, both here and abroad for at least the last 70 years, who would have ever thought that Americans today would be considering Marxism to be a better way of life? But that is exactly what is happening.  From college campuses to the NBA, and from the politically naïve to progressives in the halls of congress, America is wallowing in the ideologies of Karl Marx, even though those same ideologies have destroyed every society that has ever attempted to fully implement Marx’s philosophy about human prosperity and wealth.

The War Against Prosperity

Karl Marx, along with his associate Fredrick Engels, believed that the individual freedom to produce and exchange value should be restricted to the state.  They believed that to work and have the market determine the value of what you produced, was a form of enslavement which kept certain classes of people from enjoying the economic benefits that were being created.

Ironically, Marx and Engels believed that a group of government officials could better manage the value of what was produced, and in doing so, create a society where everybody could relax, and enjoy the value being produced in the economy.  Based on the notion that humans had reached the peak of human productivity, Marx and Engels believed that the value that had been produced was not evenly distributed and therefore certain classes of people had been slighted. Viewing themselves as the Savior of the world, they proposed the confiscation by government so that government could more evenly redistribute the wealth that had be produced.

In their reasoning, Marx and Engels believed the bourgeoisie (business owners) were compelling the proletariat (workers) to labor for them against their will.  Yet, quite ignorantly, Marx and Engels never foresaw the fallacy that the government regulation they proposed was merely a more powerful bourgeoisie, a bourgeoisie that had an army which would kill and destroy value along with millions of lives in its efforts to enforce its will upon the masses. This is what jealousy produces: Hatred and extermination of any idea, philosophy or people who oppose you.  And that is what we are seeing today in America.

Historically, it has been proven time and time again, that the bourgeoisie created by Marxism, is always much less tolerable than the bourgeoisie which Marx and Engels strove to abolish.  That is because government cannot produce anything, it can only confiscate what has already been produced by force or through taxation.  At least the bourgeoisie that Marx and Engels despised actually produced capital, acquired land, purchased resources, and provided the means necessary for production to their workers. As to how they managed those assets is still hotly disputed, but each bourgeoisie managed their business according to their own free will and not through governmental decree.

Today many are led to believe that government can better provide for them than they can provide for themselves.  Understanding the consequences of Marx and Engels philosophy becomes paramount if we are to avoid the horrible poverty, purges, mortality, and loss of individual freedom that has beleaguered the countries who have attempted to implement Marxist philosophy.

The Age Long Battle Against Becoming Wealthy:

One of the underlying concepts in the Marxist philosophy is that poverty is a virtue. The falsehood that: If you are poor, then you are obviously poor because somebody else has taken what was rightfully yours, is the dogma that Marx and Engels reveled in. As Eve was beguiled by the lie of the serpent in the garden, humans have become beguiled with Marx’s philosophy.  But Marx’s philosophy flies in the face of logic.  Poverty and riches do not define who a person is any more than intelligence or brawn does.  We know that ancient Greece idealized both intelligence and brawn, even to the point that they sacrificed their newborns who were frail or weak upon the mountain tops while idolizing those who became philosophers.  Interestingly, many of those ancient Greek philosophers discouraged the ownership of personal property and wealth. And so, it is no surprise that Plato’s contemplations about money and personal possessions became a central theme in Marx and Engels philosophy.

But Jesus reminds us that, “What comes out of a person”[i] is more important than what a person owns or possesses. The Bible notes that if you are going to run in a race you have to compete according to the rules in order to win.[ii]  Winning implies competition, and competition was opposed by Marx because competition requires individual freedom.  Therefore, it is important to understand and comply with the rules that govern money and wealth.  Otherwise you will become dependent on the value others produce, instead of the value you produce for your own preservation and sustenance. Being reliant on others for your preservation and sustenance is a Marxist philosophy, not a godly philosophy.  The godly philosophy is summed up in these few words written by Paul, “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”[iii]

Is it Wrong to Desire to become Wealthy?

Humility is a prerequisite to prosperity.  David recorded that “The humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in prosperity.”[iv] What a contrast this concept is, compared to the demands being made today for “a guaranteed minimal living income, a minimal hourly wage, and gender parity income.”  But prosperity, is not something that can be compared to anyone.  You can be very prosperous and still not be the richest person on the block.  Prosperity is the position you enjoy when you become content with what you have, while never becoming satisfied because you realize what you can still attain.

Joshua encouraged the young nation of Israel, “Never let the book of this law depart from your mouth, but meditate on it day and night, so that you will be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and you will have success.”[v]   One of those things that you must carefully observe in that law is to be generous. That is because: “The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.”[vi]

God himself “has set prosperity, death and adversity before each of us.”[vii] To enjoy prosperity you must learn to face and deal with the other two, death and adversity.  Each will be a part of your life here on earth.  But all too frequently, those who can’t force themselves to face the reality of dying and having to overcome the adversities in life, never recognize the prosperity that God has provided for them to enjoy.

The Error of Those Who Seek Riches:

Marx and Engels philosophy about wealth and prosperity was dependent on a human government to regulate and distribute the value that was created in society.  But God’s philosophy about wealth and prosperity is not based on anything human.  In fact, God warns us that if we put our trust in humans we will be cursed and not even be able to recognize the prosperity that he sends for us to enjoy.[viii]

This curse applies to those who depend on the riches that they have accumulated as well. When you trust in your ability to make money, build a retirement account, plan to save enough up so you can stop producing anything of value and are ready to sit back and merely watch the world go by at your leisure, take warning:  “Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf in spring.”[ix] This is why Jesus told his disciples how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.[x]

The Real Reason the Wealthy are Hated:

Almost habitually, the wealthy in our society are criticized, not because of who they are, but because others are jealous of what they have been able to accomplish.  It has somehow become acceptable in our society to be smart (schooled) and strong (athletic), but not wealthy, unless you are “woke”.  How different is that than the ancient Greeks who deplored money, idealized brawn and brains, and idolized a life full of ease and entertainment?

Today people who have been schooled by our institutions and media are quick to label others less “woke” than themselves.  They use labels like uneducated, deplorable, despicable, and even worse. If you are an athlete, who is phenomenally paid for entertaining others, you hold more clout than those who actually produce something of real value for the rest of society. Or, if you have leveraged your position in government or academia, in order to extract the wealth others have produced to enrich yourself, you are considered honorable. But if you have been diligent and become wealthy by producing things that others value, yet have not become “woke” enough, regardless if you are “Hollywood pretty,” or “professionally athletic,” then you are obviously some greedy villain who has taken advantage of others to gratify your own prosperity.  Emotions like anger, resentment, inadequacy, lack of possessions, and insecurity have come to justify the belief that “nobody built that” or “it takes a village.”  The truth is: It did take somebody to build that and it does take a village to appreciate and exchange the value that a free, creative mind can conceive of and build.  But this is Capitalism, not Marxism, and so is denigrated in our society.

Who and what a person is and becomes is determined by the value of that person, not by what they are labeled, called, or schooled to become.   Still, God warns us not to boast “in your knowledge, nor in your strength, nor in your wealth”[xi] lest he send foreigners, the most ruthless of nations, to draw their swords against your beauty, your wisdom and your splendor.[xii]   But don’t let that make you believe that poverty is a virtue.

Is it Okay to Be Wealthy?

Of all the stories in the Bible, the one about the Good Samaritan addresses the crux of this matter at its very core.  The Priest, who was schooled in the law requiring him to love his neighbor as himself, didn’t bother to help the man who had fallen victim to robbery and violence.  The Levite, whose entire livelihood was sustained because of the work and sacrifice of others, didn’t bother to show his gratitude for the way his own needs were supplied as he too choose to walk away leaving the man half dead by the roadside.  But a foreigner who showed compassion, as well as generosity, not only by cleaning the wounds of the victim but transporting him to safety, and paying for his lodging until he was healed, demonstrated what wealth is really all about.

Wealth is the ability to help others more than you would have been able to help them had you been under other circumstances.  The Priest was not wealthy, nor was the Levite, even though they may have been financially capable of providing for the needs of the victim as well as the foreigner.  But because the foreigner was willing, and generous, he demonstrated to all of us what true wealth really is.

Wealth or prosperity is not demarcated by what you own or possess, but rather in how you use what you own and possess to create value from which others can benefit. The apostle John wrote to his friend praying, “Above all things may you prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.”[xiii] This implies that prosperity is not something to shun or shy away from.  In fact, the Psalmist recorded that, “Those who fear the Lord are blessed, their children will be strong in the land, they will be blessed with wealth and riches and their accomplishments will last forever.”[xiv]

Yet those who merely desire to become rich, and not wealthy, “Fall into a trap and many foolish and harmful desires plunge them into ruin and destruction.”[xv]  The desire to create wealth should lead to helping others as the Good Samaritan did. We know there will always be those who are needful of assistance.  Jesus told us so in Matthew 26:11, “The poor you will always have with you.” Karl Marx and Fredrick Engels didn’t believe these words of Jesus or they never would have attempted to solve the human problem of poverty with governmental regulations and redistributions programs.

To be wealthy simply means to experience well-being, health and prosperity.  The old English word “Wele” was used to mean all three of these things but this fundamental meaning has been lost to a world that is envious, jealous and desirous of other people’s good fortune, possessions, health, position, and ability.  Instead of employing their own good fortune, health, position and abilities, many merely crave what they do not have. “They covet, and even kill for what is not their own, but they still never obtain what they desire because they ask with wrong motives, only to squander it on their own pleasure.”[xvi]

They do this not realizing that, “Whoever loves money will never have enough money.”[xvii] Money is only valuable to those who use it to supply the needs they have themselves or to help others meet their needs.  King Midas learned this lesson the hard way as his own daughter turned into gold because of his lust for the power to turn everything he touched into gold. But don’t believe that money is the problem because it is “the love of money”, that “is the root of all evil.”[xviii]

What is Money?

Money is time, and therefore merely a measure of value.  It is a spiritual entity in that only humans use money to express and exchange value.  Animals don’t think twice about stealing or taking from another animal, or even a human, for that matter. What animals want they take, when they want, and how much they want.  But with humans this kind of behavior is childish and must be overcome if any level of joy or fulfillment is to ever be achieved.  Therefore, as a human, the more money you earn, as long as you earn that money by providing value to others, the more joy and fulfillment you will experience.  In other words, the more prosperous you will become.  Money gained by theft, dishonesty, deceptions or at the expense of others will never produce the joy, fulfillment or the prosperity that all human hearts long for.  That is because money made in these fashions is animalistic (material), and can never provide the spiritual contentment that humans desire and pursue in life.

As a measurement of value, money kept out of circulation becomes valueless.  Today, in 2019, a dollar kept from 1960 wouldn’t be worth 1/10th of what it was back then.  Consequently, it is wise to follow the advice Jesus gave when he said, “Do not store up for yourself treasure here on earth, where moths and rust destroy them, and where thieves break in and steal.”[xix]   The value of money increases when it moves or flows around producing more value.  Storing money prevents it from doing what it was intended to do and will ultimately destroy its value.  Once time moves on and the value of your money is destroyed, there will be no way to restore that value.

How to Become Wealthy

“Know this for sure:  No immoral, impure or greedy person has any inheritance in the kingdom of God.  For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”[xx] Greed is a subtle attitude that can creep into your life without your acknowledgement.  When it does, it will begin to steal the value of anything you have been able to accomplish.  The late Billy Graham wrote, “Tell me what you think about money, and I will tell you what you think about God, for these two are closely related.”[xxi]  John Wesley believed and taught, that you should, “Make all the money you can; keep all the money you can, and give all the money you can.”  And if you live by Wesley’s philosophy, you will truly be wealthy.

Wealth is realizing that your true net worth is not how much money you have, or how many things you possess. Wealth is your wellbeing and the ability to bless other people.  Paul the apostle reported that he had learned to be content whatever his circumstances.  He told the Philippians, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who provides for me.”[xxii]

And that is the answer to the question, “Is it Wrong to be Wealthy?”  Godliness with contentment is a great gain, as Paul records for our benefit in I Timothy 6:6.  And we are told that, “If we obey and serve God, we will spend the rest of our days in prosperity and our years in contentment.”[xxiii]

Prayers and condolences are well and good!  After all we are instructed to pray even for our enemies.  But to be able to pray, offer condolences, and provide the essentials for those who are in physical need, is much greater than mere prayers and words of sympathy and comfort.  We are remined, that if “A brother or sister is without clothes and daily food and you say to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat well,’ but you do nothing to satisfy their physical needs, what good have you done?”[xxiv]  Wealth is having the ability to provide those essentials, not only for yourself and those you love, but for others who are suffering a lack of those physical necessities.

Government has stepped into and tried to take over the territory that God intended his people on earth to occupy and control.  Money is a good thing which God created.[xxv]  Government is by nature a manmade institution which God has ordained to punish, praise and recognize good citizenship.[xxvi] And though they are manmade, governments also have been used by God to sanctify and purify those who profess his name.  But one way that government(s) have usurped their God given authority is in the making of money.  Money generated by government(s) makes everybody suffer from the hidden tax of inflation.

But there is no promise made to those proclaiming God’s name, that we will avoid persecutions, insult, loss of possessions, loved ones, money, violence or even death.  In reality we are promised that these very things will happen to us who truly believe, because “to all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, will suffer persecutions.”[xxvii]  So never assume that mere riches and material goods are signs of God’s special selection of you.  Wealth cannot guarantee that you will never have your money confiscated.  Wealth will never keep you from facing violence, or even death. Wealth is the awareness that “God will provide all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”[xxviii] regardless of anything that may happen to you.  And without this constant awareness there is no amount of money, health, possessions or abundance that will provide you with the wealth and prosperity that you desire.

May you prosper, even as your soul prospers!

Dr. Tomas McFieDr. Tomas P. McFie

Most Americans depend on Social Security for retirement income. Even when people think they’re saving money, taxes, fees, investment losses and market volatility take most of their money away. Tom McFie is the founder of McFie Insurance which helps people keep more of the money they make, so they can have financial peace of mind. His latest book, A Biblical Guide to Personal Finance, can be purchased here. 

[i] Mark 7:20
[ii] 2 Timothy 2:5
[iii] 2 Thessalonians 3:10
[iv] Psalms 37:11
[v] Joshua 1:8
[vi] Proverbs 11:25
[vii] Deuteronomy 30:15
[viii] Jeremiah 17:5-6
[ix] Proverbs 11:28
[x] Mark 10:23
[xi] Jerimiah 9:23
[xii] Ezekiel 28:7
[xiii] III John 1:2
[xiv] Psalms 112:1-2
[xv] 1 Timothy 6:9
[xvi] James 4:3
[xvii] Ecclesiastes 5:10
[xviii] 1 Timothy 6:10
[xix] Matthew 6:19
[xx] Ephesians 5:5
[xxi] https://billygraham.org/devotion/where-is-your-treasure-2/
[xxii] Philippians 4:11-13
[xxiii] Job 36:11
[xxiv] James 2:15-16
[xxv] Genesis 2:12
[xxvi] I Peter 2:12
[xxvii] II Timothy 3:12
[xxviii] Philippians 4:19