It is said that money makes the world go round. Money, cash, cheddar, “the big green,” whatever you want to call it, is certainly important in this world, but I would hardly call it the most important thing on this spinning marble. I will admit, however, that the absence of money appears to have more negative ramifications than actually having some on hand. After all, everything costs something, and money is always an object.
It seems like money and currency are very important within video games as well. In most modern-day titles, it is not just the goal of the hero to rescue the damsel in distress, he can also get absolutely, filthy rich doing it. Some game settings are like the Mushroom Kingdom in Super Mario Bros., where there are literally thousands of solid gold coins littering the landscape. Other titles, like the Final Fantasy games, allow you to receive gil (their version of gold) off of hapless enemies and creatures. In most MMOs, players can take the discarded remains of their enemies and hawk them off for some gold and silver. In turn, these pieces of currency will eventually be used to buy more items, weapons, and armor. Do you know what the best part of this is; those items will eventually be sold again for better weapons and armor with superior attributes. It is a never-ending cycle, really.
What is so funny about this is that, in this case, video games actually reflect our reality quite well. Say some piece of hardware is developed, like a cutting edge graphics card, and you just HAVE to have it! You save up your money and cut your costs by doing battle with the weekend workload and slaying the extra expenses. After months of hard grinding, you finally raise the money to buy that coveted graphics card. You victoriously purchase it, take it home and plug it in. Oh, the brilliance of the screen resolution is breathtaking! You hop on social media to brag to your friends and that is when you see it. A new graphics card is being developed, one that is even better than the one you just purchased. Your heart sinks, but you realize that you can get a new one if you raise a little bit more money and sell the one you just purchased. How is this any different from what we do in games?
The root problem here is priorities. The Bible has something to say about the love of money that may help to illuminate our situation.
9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:9-10
Everything that comes from money can be a danger to the soul of the buyer. The problem is not the money or the products themselves, it is when those things move from being possessions to becoming possessors. The obsession behind the drive to obtain things can become so overwhelming that it completely swallows up the desire to spend time with one’s family, friends, and most importantly, God. However, the verses prior to this one tell of an answer to the problem.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
1 Timothy 6:6-8
The answer is contentment. An old philosopher once said that “a man can gain the entire world, but if he is not content with what he has, then he truly has nothing.” It has also been said that “it is better to want what you already have than to have what you want.” These timeless sayings echo our desire to to be content with our own lives and stop chasing after those things that really do not matter in this life.
All of this is easier said than done, especially in our own cultures. We see what everyone else has and we want it in our grasp, even if it is not practical or possible. We bind ourselves with thousands of dollars of credit card debt in order to achieve this, and yet it still does nothing for us. That is because discontentment does not change with more things, it changes with a renewed mind and heart. The trick to getting past the gil and garbage is to see that you are truly blessed through having a life provided to you by God.