As I write this, John McAfee is on the lam. Yes, the founder of antivirus software giant McAfee Inc. has now apparently been classified as a human “virus” by the police in the small Central American country of Belize, where McAfee has made his home since 2008. They are hunting for him as a “person of interest” in the murder of his American expatriate neighbor Gregory Faull. McAfee denies that he had anything to do with the murder. But he has gone into hiding, fearing that if the police catch him, they will kill him.
In a recently launched blog, McAfee alleges that he is being unfairly targeted by police and the media. However, the recently released e-book John McAfee’s Last Stand, by Wired magazine contributing editor Joshua Davis, paints a picture of McAfee as a man possessed by “ambition, paranoia, sex, and madness.”
For a timeline of John McAfee’s rise to wealth and his fall to being sought by the police in connection with a murder, see John McAfee, From Tech Pioneer to Murder Suspect.
John McAfee was once worth over $100 million. By 2009, his fortune had plummeted to $4 million. And though much of that loss may have been due to the recent crashes in real estate and the stock market, it appears that McAfee’s lifestyle may have had something to do with it as well.
In short, it seems that McAfee’s wealth has been more of a curse than a blessing. Instead of doing good and benefiting humanity, it appears that McAfee used his money primarily to buy pleasure for himself and to satiate his own appetites.
That’s not what wealth was supposed to be about in the Bible. In Old Testament times, wealth was considered a blessing that God conferred on the righteous as a reward for their virtue.
By the time of the New Testament, the idea that wealth is a blessing from God had come under fire. Whereas wealth had formerly been seen as a sign of God’s favor, and as evidence that the person of wealth was especially righteous, in the New Testament poverty began to take on an aura of spirituality.
Thus, in contrast to the Old Testament view of wealth as a blessing, in the New Testament riches are often portrayed as an obstacle to attaining heaven, and therefore as a curse.
Yet even in the New Testament, Jesus had both rich and poor followers.
So is wealth a blessing or a curse?
It all depends on the character of the person with the wealth.
For those whose hearts are good, and who focus on doing God’s will by serving and benefiting their fellow human beings, wealth is a blessing.
But for those whose hearts are greedy and self-centered, and who focus on attaining power and pleasure for themselves, wealth is a curse.
Wealth itself is neutral. It can accomplish either good or evil. What wealth confers on those who hold it is power to carry out their desires in a larger way than is possible for those who are poor.
The question is, are those desires good and constructive, or evil and destructive?
As we will explore in a future article, many people who have attained great wealth in the business world have gone on to found charities and other institutions that have brought great blessings to their fellow human beings. And in attaining that wealth, they have provided good and needed services to millions of people.
Others who have amassed a fortune have squandered it on buying power and pleasure for themselves, hurting many people in the process, and ultimately destroying their own lives.
John McAfee’s story is still unfolding. With conflicting stories competing for credence, it is hard to know where the full truth lies. But as it appears now, the great wealth McAfee reaped from his earlier innovative career has only aided him in building up a self-centered life that is destined for destruction.
Millions of people seek wealth, thinking that it will end their struggles and usher in an era of happiness for themselves and their loved ones.
But as those who do attain wealth can understand if they reflect upon it, wealth itself brings neither happiness nor an end to the struggles of life. Rather, it magnifies the blessings of happiness or the curses of destruction that we bring upon ourselves through the good and bad choices we have made, and the character we have developed as a result of those choices.
True wealth is spiritual. Material wealth is a blessing for those who become spiritual, focusing their lives on serving God and benefiting their fellow human beings, but a curse for those who remain self-centered and materialistic.
For a follow-up article, see, “You Cannot Serve both God and Money.”
For more on money, business, and the Bible, see, “What Does Religion Have to Do with My Profession and My Daily Work?”