I know for sure what it means to be poor – to be unable to meet your basic needs, fulfill your obligations or do the things that are really important to you. I have an idea what it means to be wealthy – to have all your needs met, enjoy the best luxuries of life, and still have so much you’re not sure what to do with it. And with that, I have discovered this: money means nothing. It has no value in itself except what you ascribe to it. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll share some of my thoughts and experiences on money…

A few years ago, at Moremi Car Park, in University of Lagos, I saw two children, the younger of whom was crying ceaselessly. The older one kept trying to drag him along, while he staunchly refused to be moved or consoled. I felt touched by the sight, so I stepped close to ask what the problem was. And I found out the boy was screaming and wailing because of 50 Naira (or 20 Naira, I think) he had lost. So if I gave him that amount, he would just keep quiet and ‘hold his peace’. But I did not so much a have a single kobo on me, not there with me or anywhere else. I could not believe my own predicament, as I walked away feeling terrible about how poor I was. That experience left a permanent imprint on my mind, as I figured I could not afford to be poor in life. My poverty would not serve God’s purpose: I could not fulfill God’s purpose if I had no access to the required resources. And although I have never been obsessed with being rich, I have come to realize that having more can actually enhance my capacity to do God’s will.

Some years ago, I heard Pastor Ayo Ajani preach from Isaiah 1:19. He was describing how it was important for believers, not only to be obedient, but also to be WILLING to eat the good of the land. The combination of WILLINGNESS and OBEDIENCE is a two-pronged fork with which we eat from the table of the Lord. To eat the good of the land is a privilege we are called to, and which we must not take for granted. It also comes with much responsibility, as I will discuss later, but it is indeed a rare privilege belonging to God’s own beloved. To be willing here is to set our minds to the possibility of prospering without struggling (not without working) as the Lord has commanded. We can, indeed, eat the good of the land in which we find ourselves at any point in time. We can get the best of outcomes possible from our labours and efforts, and prosper so much we become exceedingly great, but we must be willing to exercise our faith in this direction – because the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

Despite all the good things God has desired for his children regarding wealth and prosperity, the fact remains that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil. And many believers, in their pursuit of money, have strayed from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Tim. 6:10). Money, as it appears, is a ruthless god, subjecting many of his seekers to endless labours and sorrowful struggle, dangling the hope of wealth before them – a continuous mirage – till many of them lay their heads in the grave. Some even die from worrying about not having enough money, while others take their fate into their hands and pursue wealth by every means available till they come to evil. Yet money, like a winged bird, disappears quickly from those who possess it, neither does it satisfy those who acquire much of it.

Although there are many things I have done, can do and will yet do with money, I have come to discover that money cannot give my life a meaning. I have had more than I needed and still felt unfulfilled; I have had less than I needed and felt fulfilled. I have also had abundance and fulfillment with it, much as I have felt unfulfilled when I had no money. I have concluded that although money is powerful and useful, it brings neither meaning nor fulfillment. Fulfillment comes from doing God’s will – obeying His written word, and walking in His revealed purpose for one’s life. Money, however, has its place in the scheme of things. It is an instrument, a helpful tool, a ready servant, a proven means towards achieving one’s purpose. It is not an end, is not a good master, has no purpose, has no intrinsic value, and has no nature of its own. It takes on the nature of its owner. There are various helpful ways to think about money, and I’ll begin to discuss that in the next post…