I came across an interesting verse in Ecclesiastes 7. I had to look in several translations to find that which mapped most closely to a literal translation, and here it is from The Message.
“Wisdom is better when it’s paired with money, especially if you get both while you’re still living. Double protection: wisdom and wealth! Plus this bonus: Wisdom energizes its owner.”
Young’s Literal Translation says, And the advantage of the knowledge of wisdom [is], She reviveth her possessors. You might be saying, “Give me the money and then I will be energized; when I have money, I will be revived.” But it doesn’t work that way in the long run. Without God, the more you have, the more you have to lose; the more you have to lose, the more you fear; the more you fear, the less energized you are. Money without wisdom is not necessarily life-giving. The counter-principle says, “If I have it and share it I’ll have more to share and less to lose.”
On a particular occasion, the wisdom we have sought and received says, “Go forward in buying a property.” We think this is a good decision. This is not the product of a few months’ thoughts, but of many years of seeking and getting direction.
Without wealth, however, the deal will not be closed. “Wisdom is better when it is paired with money.” But wealth is seldom uncoupled from other matters, particularly matters of the heart. A transformed mind increases the likelihood that we will have fewer obstacles to generating wealth. A clear spirit takes away any question of the motives for creating wealth. A right heart increases our ability to handle wealth.
We can grow in wealth without any plans to give it away, I suppose because Deuteronomy says “it is he who gives us the ability to create wealth.” But, if we want wealth to outlast us, we invest it in things that will produce an eternal return. We sow in this life to get a harvest in this life, and a reward in heaven. Having a college degree is not enough. Having a Ph.D. in Economics does not guarantee wisdom. But if you already have the money (and most of you reading this are in the top 5% of earners in the world), have you coupled it with wisdom? If everything is stashed away in temporary assets—stocks, bonds, savings accounts, retirement plans, foundations—then we have not yet gained wisdom. If, however, you have given to the poor, put others’ needs ahead of your own, helped someone else build a capital base, and invested in God’s projects, then you have wisdom.
Wisdom with wealth. A mind with money. Eternal riches with present possessions. Can we have it all? Not if we try to keep it all.