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  • Psalm 49

    Listen up, people,
    Pay attention, everybody,
    High and mighty,
    lowly and meek,
    Rich or poor,
    don't make no difference,
    'cause I'm giving out the 411,
    straight from the source,
    and if you pay attention,
    the blessings will be on you.
    Gonna give you a parable,
    gonna sing you a story,
    play you a tune.

    Why should I care about the times of trouble,
    when the sins of my past surround me?
    The ones who trust in wealth and boast about their possessions,
    They're going down, 'cause you can't bribe God, you can't buy salvation.
    (And their souls are worth more than all the riches on earth.)
    And their bodies will be like all others, corrupt in the grave.
    All men die, wise men, foolish men, bullies and meek alike,
    and they take nothing with them.

    Their plan is to make their children rich, that their families will continue,
    that their names will be remembered for generations.
    But we are all destined for the earth, just like the beasts.
    And they only fool themselves, for their children will not honor them.
    Think about this.

    They are like sheep led to the slaughter,
    death will have them in the end.
    The righteous will reign over all they own,
    and their legacy will be forgotten in the grave.
    But God will redeem my soul from corruption,
    God will lift my soul from the earth.
    Think about this.

    Don't worry about people when they grow rich,
    when they build big houses and wear fancy clothes,
    for when they die, they take none of that with them,
    their rewards on earth will not carry any weight with God.
    While he lived, he honored himself, and was honored by men,
    for men are impressed with wealth and riches.
    God will take measure of the man,
    and if he is righteous, he will be lifted up,
    and if he is not, he will not be lifted, but lie in the ground corrupt.
    A man who is wise will understand,
    a man who is not will perish.

    When I was a kid, the word Millionaire was impressive. I even caddied for a couple of them at Meadowbrook Country Club. They were magnanimous people who drove big, fancy cars, wore expensive clothes, ate expensive meals, and always tipped well. Or so I thought. Children do have a very limited view of things. All I saw were the tips.

    Later on, I started to realize that millionaires became millionaires by hoarding instead of giving. True, they owned businesses that employed other people and paid taxes when they had to. But amassing a million dollars meant neglecting the normal gifts to charity to lay up money for yourself. After a point, there was only so much money you needed. The rest of it? Ostentation. Vanity. Pride.

    We live in a world now where the word millionaire is preceded by the phrase “just another”. Billionaires were surpassed by trillionaires, some rumored to have more wealth than several third world nations. Yet despite all these impressive titles, one thing never changes. No one is immortal. Everyone dies, and you take nothing with you beyond the grave.

    In Matthew 19:24, Jesus reminds his disciples, “ is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” ¹

    This doesn't mean anyone who succeeds financially is destined to go to hell. What it does mean is you need to set your priorities and stick to them. When God gives you resources beyond your needs, He expects you to use them wisely. If you do, He will probably continue to grant you access to more. If you don't, he probably won't. Or He may allow you to prosper in life so that you have the rewards you earn here, but have nothing left in heaven.

    Keep your eye on the prize, as Dr. King said. Don't think the end result of wealth is to amass more. Think about what God would want you to do. Then do it.


    ¹ The “eye of the needle” Jesus is referring to is a small opening in the outer walls of a city. These openings were barely large enough for a child to pass through, let alone a camel.
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