"He is a self-made man. Yes, and one who worships his creator." —William Cowper
The other day, I saw this ad featuring multi-billionaire Sir Richard Branson. He is a pretty amazing guy, actually. Blond and bold, his pursuits and achievements are out of this world, literally. Among a slew of other amazingly daring ventures, he founded Virgin Galactic, the first commercial space port and funded SpaceShipOne, the first successful privately owned space craft. In the advertisement, below a picture of him and a crazyexpensive wrist watch, are two words: Self Made. (I didn't quite get the connection, but I think I'm supposed to buy a watch like his so I can be a billionaire too.)
It is a thought-provoking image and message, however, and worth considering as we ponder myths Christians believe about money.
Myth #2: Wealth is a rational result of resourcefulness. If I've made my money, it's because I made my money, right? I did it. I earned it. I worked hard for my wealth. I started out on my own. No one helped me. I just went at it as hard as I could. I, right?
Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. —Ecclesiastes 5:19
Sure, Sir Richard Branson is brilliant, but where did he get that brain? Sure, Branson has worked hard, but where did he get a healthy body? How about all the education and learning opportunities he had when he was young? His parents provided all that for him, and where did they get the resources? Branson could have died from malnutrition at three months old if he had been born on the other side of the globe. Or he could have been born in a different time, say the Middle Ages, one of the most oppressive times in history. But he wasn't. He was placed into this place, given this mind, given this energy, given these responsibilities and opportunities, from whom?
Directly or indirectly everything Branson has is a gift from God. God made him. Same goes for each of us. Everything comes from Him and we are the work of His hands. Something peaceful and powerful floods our heart when we truly recognize this: None of us are "self made."
My God and my Creator, check my heart, O Lord! Show me where my independent arrogance is taking credit for Your gracious gifts. I praise You and I thank You for everything that makes me wealthy. To You be the honor for all that I am and all that I have. Amen.