Several years ago the Bare Naked Ladies mused about what they would do “If I had $1 000 000”. All month Ontario Lotteries has been running TV ads asking us what would we do if we won $1 000 000 a year for 25 years. And this week the Federal budget was unveiled. But did you know that all this money talk is a spiritual issue?
In many ways there are few documents more spiritual than a budget. After all, a budget talks about what we think is important, and shows that importance with money and resources rather than just words. And so we have to ask ourselves what our financial decisions say. Do tax cuts show an attempt to favour the rich or an attempt to provide for the poor? Is increased spending a waste of money or an active provision of needed service and support? Do our personal finances focus on our own wants or what is best for the society as a whole?
Note that the answers to these questions are rarely straightforward. There is nothing wrong with watching out for our own needs and wants. There is nothing wrong with being rich. The witness of Scripture never makes wealth a sin. Money is morally neutral. It is the choices we make that have moral or ethical value. Scripture calls us always to use what we have for the betterment of God’s whole Creation.
So I took time to think about the question asked in the lottery commercial. (Of course in my case the question is purely rhetorical since you can’t win when you never buy lottery tickets.) What would be the thing to do with a million dollars a year for 25 years?
Some things are obvious. Provide for the girls now and in the future, create education savings for them. Pay off the van, buy a second vehicle, help out our families. But that doesn’t take nearly the amount of money we are talking about here. So what else?
For me some of the what else would be support ministry in various places and ways (in and out of the church). Give to worthy causes, nationally and internationally. Do those things that allow people of all sorts of backgrounds find the abundant life that is the hope of us all. Find ways to help pick each other up out of whatever hole we find ourselves in.
But I would also set aside money to support other parts of creation. I would take time to set up a fund for building ultra-high eco-efficient houses and buildings. I see a fund for a wide range of public and private and public/private projects to improve our ecological quality of life.
That, in part, is what I would do. What would you do?
Oh and lets be honest. In all our minds part of the answer is given in the end of the song: