The Irrelevance of a Post Titled “The Irrelevance of Needs vs Wants”

Rusty - August 9, 2007

David has $1,000,000 wisely invested gaining 20% annually.
David gives away half of the gains ($100,000) to a charitable cause every year.
David lives on the other half ($100,000).

Matty comes along and tells David that to be a true Christian he needs to give all of his money (except money for bread and water) to the charitable cause.

What should he do?



  1. Well, on one hand you’ve got Christ teaching the “Parable of the Talents” which would seem to call for continued wise investment.

    But then you’ve got Christ telling the rich young man to “give all to the poor and follow him.”

    So which is it?

    Comment by Seth R. — August 9, 2007 @ 6:39 pm

  2. Ask David if he is Christ. Then remind David to mind his own beezwax.

    Comment by Cheryl — August 9, 2007 @ 8:06 pm

  3. Oops. I’m an idiot. I meant, “ask MATTY”. ~sigh~

    Comment by Cheryl — August 9, 2007 @ 8:07 pm

  4. Only Christ, Himself, can bestow the label “true Christian”, if David wishes to be a true Christian then he should (continue to) consult with Christ as to proper actions.

    Comment by Daylan — August 9, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  5. David should contact me immediately. I will volunteer to be a charitable cause.

    Comment by John — August 9, 2007 @ 8:36 pm

  6. I assume this is inspired by Matt Evans recent T&S posts. If so, I believe it is an extremely unfair cheap shot. In the face of the scriptural passages calling us to love others as ourselves, it is perfectly reasonable to probe deeply to try to discover what that really means and what God really expects of us. Posing tough questions and forcing us to confront ourselves is hardly the same as unrighteous judgment of others.

    Comment by Gary — August 9, 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  7. Seth,
    Yes, that is the question isn’t it. Matt over at his T&S thread seems to be advocating for the latter.

    Cheryl & Daylan,
    It’s a good point that we should ask Christ directly because as Seth pointed out, His written word appears to be contradictory, especially if you add Matt 26:8-11 into the mix.

    It might be cheap, but it’s not a shot, though I think it is extreme, but certainly not unfair :) FWIW, the intent of this post has nothing to do with judgement. Rather my main point is that when you give away that which generates money, you are giving away all future money.

    Of course his question appears “tough”, all questions that shoot beyond the mark seem that way. It’s definitely a good starting point, though, for misinterpreting scriptures and judgement of those who don’t interpret them like you.

    Comment by Rusty — August 9, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

  8. Isn’t it possible that since the Lord specifically asked the rich young man then he should give it, but He hasn’t asked that of us yet? Doesn’t that tie to the consecration and/or sacrifice covenant in the temple?

    What I mean is that the church doesn’t ask us to give all our possessions to the church. The Lord wants us to have the things we have when we exercise rightous dominion but to be willing to give all of it up if/when He asks for it. Just like Abraham, the richest man in the world.

    Comment by Bret — August 9, 2007 @ 9:44 pm

  9. Cheryl & Daylan,

    Just because someone advocates one side of a moral dilemma doesn’t mean the whole thing should be thrown out. A moral dilemma is a moral dilemma, regardless of the moral authority of the one pointing it out.

    “Rather my main point is that when you give away that which generates money, you are giving away all future money.”

    Good point, Rusty, but this works the other way as well. David could be investing that other $100,000, thus producing more money to give to charity in the future. Whenever you give away any money, you are always giving away future money. Why the number $100,000? Why not more or less?

    In any case, while the dilemma you present is an interesting and difficult one, it doesn’t address the one Matt asks. I don’t have a solution to either your problem or Matt’s problem, but my point is just that Matt’s question is indeed a pretty tough one. If there’s an interpretation of the scriptures which solves these problems, that would be of great interest to many.

    Comment by Eric Russell — August 9, 2007 @ 9:56 pm

  10. Bret,
    I think you’re exactly right. While Matt seems to think we’ve been commanded to give any excess to those in need, the reality is that we’ve covenanted to be willing to do so (if necessary).

    I used that number only because it was the stable increase. If it were more than it would gradually decrease over time and if it were less then it would increase. Just a way to keep the focus on the fact that money generates money.

    Comment by Rusty — August 9, 2007 @ 10:41 pm

  11. If I were David, I’d tell Matt that I can think of much better financial advice than poorly-translated, largely questionable fables of what some carpenter-turned-rabbi may have once said.

    Comment by Nick Literski — August 10, 2007 @ 8:48 am

  12. He should check out the podcast at and find out what the Bible really says about how and why we should care for the poor.

    Hint: he should continue making all that money!

    Comment by Tim — August 10, 2007 @ 9:25 am

  13. oops, try this link

    Comment by Tim — August 10, 2007 @ 9:27 am

  14. Rusty,

    You are really missing the mark with this post. You are trying to make it about economics and practical consequences when the original post is about guilt.

    Comment by Jacob J — August 10, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  15. A moral dilemma is a moral dilemma, regardless of the moral authority of the one pointing it out.

    Since Christ, through God, continues to be the ultimate authority on morality, I would say that He’s the one to decide if it’s a dilemma.

    Comment by Cheryl — August 10, 2007 @ 11:12 am

  16. Jacob,
    If his post is about guilt then he shouldn’t wrap it up as a question that is easily solved in a discussion about economics.

    But maybe I’m seeing it that way because that’s kinda how I deal with my own guilt—practically. There is just no way I’m going to feel guilty about every single hardship that every single person on this earth deals with when that is not something Christ wants me to feel guilty about. I prefer to discuss how to live the Gospel in practical terms, not super-simplistic, unrealistic hypotheticals.

    But that’s just me. It appears there are many on that thread who appreciate it, so, I hope the best for them.

    Comment by Rusty — August 10, 2007 @ 11:15 am

  17. Rusty,

    How is the problem easily solved in a discussion about economics? The question, it seems to me, is not about the money that is invested or given to charity. The question is, does David really need $100,000 to live on? Couldn’t he live on $90,000 and then give that additional $10,000 to charity or investments towards future charities? Wherever we draw the line in what we allocate towards ourselves, we could always be giving a little more.

    Comment by Eric Russell — August 10, 2007 @ 1:31 pm

  18. I prefer to discuss how to live the Gospel in practical terms, not super-simplistic, unrealistic hypotheticals.

    Exactly. Spot on. Word.

    Comment by Norbert — August 11, 2007 @ 12:16 pm

  19. IMHO: This particular story means I should give away almost everything I have acquired and live hand to mouth following Jesus’ advice to the rich man very literally. Why would *this* story be just for the one person, while most of his stories were told with the intent to instruct all listeners?

    The problem isn’t figuring out how to dance out of the difficulty of this challenge. The problem is that I don’t have even a fraction of the faith required to do it. My lack of faith, however, doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t really mean that I should give everything away. NOT jumping into the huge, gaping, scary, dark abyss is my cowardly choice. A choice I think he understands. But he still hasn’t revoked the invitation.

    Comment by Amy S. — September 8, 2007 @ 9:17 pm

  20. Please let us know where you can invest wisely and get a 20 percent return. I’m dying to know.

    Comment by Korinna — October 16, 2007 @ 8:15 am

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