Wealth Problem: The Arrival Syndrome
“MY power and the strength of MY hand made ME this wealth.”
Can we “arrive” at infinite knowledge, in any subject matter? Within a finite existence, can we ever fully experience infinity?
Our abilities to acquire perfect knowledge and wisdom of anything will always be limited in this finite world. Yet there is a powerful desire in all of us to think more highly of ourselves that we ought, and to be wise in our own estimation (Romans 12:3, 16). It is this very desire that has been the greatest hindrance on mankind from the beginning of existence (see Genesis 3). God Himself acknowledged the productive potential of people who are united together in purpose and mutual benefit as He spoke into the history of The Tower of Babel:
Genesis 11:6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they have started to do, and now nothing which they plan to do will be impossible for them.
God had no problem with these people being productive, working together, or building a city. The problem came down to their reason for doing so:
Genesis 11:4 And they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.”
God has promised His people tremendous blessings throughout history if they will devote themselves to Him and obey His instructions. There are wonderful examples throughout history that give testimony of God’s blessings to those who acknowledge and obey His ways. Some people, who have realized great success, may not be followers of Christ or students of the Bible, yet they acknowledge the patterns and processes that exist, and choose to follow them unto prosperity.
For when Gentiles who do not have the Law instinctively perform the requirements of the Law, these, though not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts… — Romans 2:14–15
What is this thing that hinders our ability to seek, acknowledge, and obey God the way we were created and desire to?
Throughout the bible, God identifies the root problem, the consequences of the problem, and also how we can overcome the problem.
Leviticus 26:14 ‘But if you do not obey Me and do not carry out all these commandments, 15 if, instead, you reject My statutes, and if your soul loathes My ordinances so as not to carry out all My commandments, but rather to break My covenant, 16 I, in turn, will do this to you: … 19 I will also break down your pride of power; and I will make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 Your strength will be consumed uselessly, for your land will not yield its produce and the trees of the land will not yield their fruit.
As God was giving Israel His commands at Mt. Sinai, God described the progression of rebellion in His people before it actually happened. God identified the root problem in their desire to disobey as “your pride of power”. He further identified Israel’s pride would be from their strength and production that, in reality, came from Him.
Deuteronomy 8:11 “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His commandments, His ordinances, and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, and you build good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks increase, and your silver and gold increase, and everything that you have increases, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 15 He who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions, and its thirsty ground where there was no water; He who brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 In the wilderness it was He who fed you manna which your fathers did not know, in order to humble you and in order to put you to the test, to do good for you in the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 18 But you are to remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, in order to confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall come about, if you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and serve and worship them, I testify against you today that you will certainly perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord eliminates from you, so you shall perish, because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.
Every human being struggles daily, whether realized or not, with some degree of pride. Any form of success, real or manufactured, is a tempting opportunity to glorify ourselves rather than God who gave us our abilities, and who blesses the fruit of our actions.
The richest and wisest person who ever lived, King Solomon, spoke frequently of the dangers of pride:
- Proverbs 8:13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
- Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
- Proverbs 26:12 Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
- Proverbs 29:23 One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
Solomon made it clear that pride limits one’s abilities to attain wisdom and understanding, therefore reducing the potential for prosperity and success. In any area of life that we develop an attitude that we no longer need to learn anything new or make personal adjustments, we have “arrived” at infinite knowledge and therefore have become blinded by our own pride. We must battle against pride every day if we desire to grow and thrive. We can always improve in any area of life, including our understanding of finance and stewardship.
“The problem in America isn’t so much what people don’t know; the problem is what people think they know that just ain’t so.” — Will Rogers
There are many people who are so convinced they are following “God’s Way” of managing finances that they arrogantly refuse to even consider other possibilities. This also keeps them from studying the real truth of God’s word about the subject. They have “arrived”. I know this is true in many churches and Christian households because it was once me and my family. Only when I encountered problems with what I thought was true, did I seek the truth of God’s word and consider other possibilities. I pray others will not be as stubborn and prideful as I was, so they can truly follow God’s way to financial success, more quickly and much easier than I did.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. — Psalm 10:4
If ever we get to a point where we think and behave as if God is not truthful, will not do what’s best for us, and therefore choose to submit to something else (sin), we are simultaneously calling God a liar, and replacing Him with a god of our own.
If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. — 1John 1:10
Is it any wonder why God abhors pride so much?
Additional passages about pride:
- Obadiah 1:3 The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, The one who lives in the clefts of the rock, On the height of his dwelling place, Who says in his heart, ‘Who will bring me down to earth?’ 4 Though you make your home high like the eagle, Though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord.
- Luke 18:9 Now He (Jesus) also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and began praying this in regard to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, crooked, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to raise his eyes toward heaven, but was beating his chest, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
- Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
- James 4:6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
There are many misconceptions in the financial world. Most of peoples misunderstanding of finances is typically based on other people's misconceptions.
“Buy Term and invest the difference.”
The idea is that people should spend as few dollars as possible, to provide as much death benefit as possible, to temporarily manage the risk of dying early, while also building up significant wealth in other areas so that by the time the term is up, they will not need the death benefit.
This sounds good on the surface, but what if we dig a little deeper?
The difference between what? This popular phrase assumes people are asking for permanent insurance quotes along with their term insurance quotes, subtracting the difference between the premiums, and investing it somewhere to supposedly create more wealth over their lifetime. How many people actually know the difference in the premium payment of a term policy versus a permanent policy?
Also, term insurance is one of the most profitable types of policies for life insurance companies because it is rare that they will ever pay out claims. I’m not against profits, but this strategy typically profits everyone but the policy owner. Whereas whole life insurance is guaranteed to pay. Whole life is a term policy, it’s just a longer term that has more risk for the insurance company, and therefore higher premiums. Whole life insurance is one of the few financial products that profit everyone involved. The owners and beneficiaries' profit from life insurance is also tax free. Why would anyone want substantial tax-free benefits limited to a term?
In reality, what typically happens is the term is purchased, but the “investing” of the difference isn’t done. What is the recommended “investment” typically? Mutual Funds, either in brokerage accounts or retirement plans, with sales charges (many of them hidden), that limit flexibility and freedom, and produce substantial income for the sellers of them, Wall Street, and the government, while the investor takes all the risk.
A Term policy may be the appropriate solution to a particular need, but the decision should be made knowing the whole truth, about the client and the potential products.
It is troubling to hear “financial guru’s”, who promote term insurance and criticize whole life, openly complain about banks and the government, but their very advice supports the banks and governments to continue in their nefarious activities. No wonder there is so much confusion in the financial world.
“Whole-Life Insurance is the worst place to put money.”
When asking people to describe the perfect investment, the following qualities are the ones most often cited, with some variation from person to person:
- A consistent high rate of return
- Tax Free
- No market volatility
- Creditor Protected
- Inflation Proof
- Easy to manage
- No fees or penalties
A product that would contain all of these features would be too good to be true. Right? All of these features are found in Whole Life Insurance. If you can think of any other qualities not listed here, the chances are pretty high that whole life has them as well. Furthermore, it’s not even an investment, it’s life insurance!
Imagine having all these qualities in one product that gives the owner full control over the asset. This is the power of the Infinite Banking Concept. The most popular products are strong on some areas but very weak on others. For example, gold is an excellent inflation hedge, but it does not provide a flow of income, its appreciation can be taxed as a capital gain, and the government has confiscated gold in the past. Real estate too can be quite volatile and is illiquid (equity is accessible through debt to someone else). Stock market investments, though promising a high rate of return, also come with substantial risk of loss.
The standard case for whole life insurance is that it is remarkably reliable on several of the above criteria. Even its weak points are not as bad as the critics claim.
Read more about The Perfect Investment here.
But one who has looked intently at the perfect law, the law of freedom, and has continued in it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an active doer, this person will be blessed in what he does. — James 1:25
We must get out of thinking pridefully so we can see the truth. Study the source of truth, the bible. Seek to practically and specifically apply what it says in our own life. Find existing solutions that help us implement and practice what God tells us to do. If the solution does not exist, unite with other like-minded people to make it happen.
“Economic problems are best solved by people freely contracting with one another and with government limited to the function of enforcing those contracts. The absolute best way to do so is through the magnificent idea of dividend-paying whole life insurance. It has more in common with banking than it does with life insurance. A better name would have been a ‘banking system with a death benefit thrown in for good measure.’ It has been around for over 200 years and stood the test of time. It is not compulsory. It is not a government sponsored idea. It preceded the income tax idea by a long time. It is Private Property! Also, the only people who participate in this idea are people who truly care about other people. What a great group of people to be engaged in business with.” -R. Nelson Nash, Becoming Your Own Banker