I’ve heard a number of people say it. “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” Makes sense. It’s challenging to argue the privilege of poverty. And as many have pointed out, money is not the root of all evil, the text says “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:10).
Another challenge related to money is when someone in need receives from someone who can help. It can be embarrassing. It gives a new appreciation of Jesus’s words, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
On August 5, 1956, C. S. Lewis responded to a letter from Mary Willis Shelburne in which Ms. Shelburne admitted to some embarrassment for having received money from friends. Lewis understood the delicacy of the experience but reasoned to a different conclusion,
“If it were really true though that to receive money or money’s worth degraded the recipient, then every act of alms we have done in our lives wd. be wicked! Dives was quite right to leave Lazarus lying at his gate! Or else (which might be even worse) we shd. have to hold that to receive was good enough for those we call ‘the poor‘ but not for our precious selves however poor we become! . . . How difficult it is to avoid having a special standard for oneself!”1
I think there are dangers on each end of the equation. Givers struggle with greed while those who receive may wrestle with embarrassment. But as long as both are without the love of money, they may very well be in the center of God’s will.
“Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble . . . Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.” – Philippians 4:14-16.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 767-768.