We were in the field behind our house playing baseball with a soccer ball. This is an unnatural amalgamation of two sports. However, at the age of 8 it seemed like a pretty good idea. After all, there were only three of us and a baseball travels too far to be practical in such circumstances. It’s difficult to hit a soccer ball very far with a baseball bat. The problem arises when you swing at an inside pitch. Picture a boy swinging the bat for all he’s worth at a soccer ball only inches from his face. This is when Newton’s law of motion, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, is fully demonstrated. The bat bounced back to hit my head causing a split in the skin above my right eye. I fell to the ground with blood flowing down the side of my face. I was taken to the hospital emergency room to get my self-inflicted wound cleaned up and repaired. A strange thing happened to me during that experience: I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be that guy who took a tragedy and made things better.
Fast forward 22 years. My dream has come true. I am an obstetrician/gynecologist serving in the US Navy. The idealism of serving people is beginning to change with the onset of sleep deprived nights, ungrateful patients, and the desire for money. When I entered private practice, the monthly balance sheet became my measure of success. The more money that came in, the more successful I saw myself. The more successful I saw myself, the more money I wanted. Be careful how you define success.
Somehow money has the ability to corrupt anything it touches. Of course, it doesn’t have to be that way. Money is not evil in and of itself. Money is simply a medium of exchange or means of payment. But money is also the measure of wealth and a source of power. Perhaps it is the power that money can supply that makes it difficult for a rich person to fully commit to Jesus as the Source of all power. Jesus warned in Luke 18:24-25 that if you’re rich it will be difficult to enter God’s kingdom. Why? Because a person carrying bags filled with gold finds it is as difficult to get through the gateway to God’s kingdom as it is for a camel to get through the eye of a needle.
I am thankful that God helped me redefine success while I was still practicing medicine. In 1995 we moved to a house in town that was less expensive and closer to the hospitals. This gave me more time with my family and a chance to build the relationships that form the foundation of true success.
In Matthew 6:19, 21 Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth… for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Fortunately, we are not like camels. We can drop our bags filled with money at any time. It’s really a matter of the heart. The only thing causing us to hold onto our bags of money is the love of money. So for the love of God, give up your love of money!