Friday, February 26, 2010

Shalom - Seeking True Wealth

Shalom is a Hebrew word pregnant with meaning. It can refer to peace between two entities especially man and God, but also between man and man, and man with self. It has a meaning of well-being, welfare or safety of an individual or a group of individuals.

It has a meaning of wholeness, comes from the Hebrew root shalam which means safe or complete, and by implication, to be friendly or to reciprocate. Shalom in the bible has been translated in many ways including:

- To make amends
- To make good
- To be (or to make) peace
- To Restore
- Peace
- Prosperity
- Wellness
- Wholeness

For example in Jeremiah 29:7 when the Israelites were exiled by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, Jeremiah tells the Israelites:
"to seek the Shalom of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

Shalom is translated into peace and prosperity, well-being, good and other similar meanings. Understanding shalom in this manner will help us understand wealth and prosperity. And in understanding wealth and prosperity we can learn to understand justice and goodness and righteousness. And in understanding justice, goodness and righteousness we can understand a little bit about the heart of God. Pretty deep stuff.

Shalom is what was originally intended for man. According to the bible, it was the fall in the Garden of Eden that led to broken shalom between man and God. As a result, everything that we experience today, debt, poverty, oppression, injustice, violence, murder, divorce, broken relationships, etc., is due to that original breaking of shalom with God.

We are indeed reaping the effects of our choices. God did not intend for this suffering, but it was man's choice to choose selfishness, violence, greed, and So even in wealth and economy, we see the injustice of things. Poverty was not the original intent of God, suffering was not God's original intent.

According to the World Bank Development Indicators, 80% of the world lives on $10 a day, 50% live on $2.50, a little over 10% live off of $1 day. More stats about poverty here. This is a systemic issue, but it is also more than that. The underlying system must be seen in context to what has been and what should be. There is a brokenness about life that government alone cannot fix, money alone cannot fix, education alone cannot fix, aid-workers alone cannot fix. So many times, we think the system is the problem, but the system is made by men, made by us... and so we are the problem.

As we mentioned above, when we broke shalom with God, each person, each individual believed in his/her heart that his/her way was better than God's. Instead of caring for one another, we cared for self, instead of forgiving each other we held grudges, instead of honoring one another, we sought to tear each other down, instead of using our wealth for the many, we only thought of what we could accumulate. Even when I look at America and my own consumerism/materialism, we are flawed, selfish, greedy people. We care more about our cars, houses, stocks than people.

When I look at all the people doing good, all the changes happening, people donating to Haiti, etc., I also know that it is temporary unless the Shalom once broken between man and God is restored. True wealth, true prosperity is then forged in the original Shalom that God intended, it is a spiritual reality, it is a physical reality, it is an emotional reality. Unless all three aspects of shalom are restored, unless we have peace with God, peace with our fellow man, and even peace with ourselves, true wealth cannot be achieved.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Having a budget, having a plan, finding your calling in life is then drawn up from what our underlying belief of life is... this system I was talking about earlier. Unless your system sees both the dignity and depravity of the human heart, it will fail sooner or later because it does not take into reality the shalom intended by God and the current state of our broken shalom with God... e.g. people are inherently good vs. people are inherently evil. The bible says both. And we are consistently inconsistently both.

Like I said in the previous post of leaving a legacy for your children and your children's children, I hope it is Shalom, the need to bring peace, prosperity, wholeness, well-being, and goodness into all areas of life.

Of course, the bible states that we do have Shalom and it is found through the restoring work of the one who is Shalom, Jesus Christ. And of course, I'll leave that to another post. Anyways, didn't think we would get a bible study from Family Finance, but this in essence is what Family Finance is all about. Cash is not king, but it has been given us for this short amount of time to use for something bigger, something far more glorious. That my friends is true wealth.

Congrats, you're rich.

What can a budget do for you?


  1. Great post!! I've written about this a few times. I like your Jeremiah 29 reference! What's so amazing about that call to seek the Shalom of the city is that it was sent to exiled Jews who would want NOTHING to do with the Shalom of Babylon, and yet God commands them to.

    And we're to do the same thing here. This is one of the foundational thoughts to why I named my site Redeeming Riches. We need to redeem back our misguided views of money!

    Out of curiosity, have you been influenced by Tim Keller's writing at all?

  2. @RedeemingRiches, First book I read of Tim Keller was Mercy Ministry back in 1998 and I think ever since I have profited from pretty much everything else he has done.

    Shalom is such a BIG topic in the bible, which means it is a BIG topic for life, but unfortunately it is overlooked either through misunderstanding or lack of understanding.