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Does God love you for your 'stuff'?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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A college history professor I once had believed that the Protestant Reformation may have helped in the development of capitalism.

Apparently some religious thinkers of the day equated God's love with the accumulation of riches. The reasoning went something like this: The more gold you had in the vault, the more property you acquired - in short, the more "stuff" you had - the more God loved you. So to show to others that you had God's love, you needed to show your possessions.

Very quickly the prosperity, riches, and profits, which brought creature comforts, became the goal. The capitalist system evolved to help support achieving that goal, the professor argued.

I don't know whether current thinking about the history of ideas would support that professor's remarks. As I grew up in the baby boomer generation, though, it seemed that the accumulation of "stuff" was what life was all about.

I had grown up in gritty neighborhoods that today people call disadvantaged or even the ghetto. I was a hard worker and was determined to escape poverty and shortages. Even in graduate school on scholarship, I was able to live in a stylish neighborhood and drive a series of nice cars. While there's nothing wrong with entrepreneurship, technological advances, or the desire to do right by our families, I found I was beginning to have doubts about some of my preconceptions about life and success.

As I found myself thinking more about God, I believe my thinking was evolving spiritually, and one day I came face to face with this startling question: Does God measure me by my stuff? Does having a great salary and a lot of grown-up toys make me a successful man?


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