Friday, March 9, 2012

Trusting in Wealth Rather Than God

The Biltmore Estate in North Carolina
       So much has been made in the last few years of those who have wealth and riches.  A lot of class
warfare seems to run through society when, in fact, this is really not the issue.  There is no sin in having
money or making money.  The sin lies in making riches your idol, and using your power of the purse
to hurt others.  It is the "love of money" that causes man to fall into all kinds of evil (I Timothy 6:10).
The moralist and historian, Baron John Emerich Dalberg Acton, said it well:  "Power tends to corrupt and
absolute power corrupts absolutely."
     Whenever man makes himself the center of his own universe and forgets God, he opens the door to an empty life.  The Psalms make it clear how God deals with the wicked and those who trust in their wealth:
"Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me - those who trust in their wealth and boast in their great riches?  No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him - the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough - that he should live on forever and not see decay.  For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others.  Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves.  But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish.  This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers who approve their sayings" ( Psalm 49:5-13).  The picture painted with these words show those who trust in their wealth and ability but the Psalmist points out that none of these people can purchase eternity from God.  Thankfully, we know we have been ransomed by God through Jesus Christ.  He, alone, could do this for us, but those who trust in their own power, wealth and ability cannot buy heaven.
Gardens around the Estate
     Verse 16 and 20 in this Psalm reads:  "Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him.....A man who has riches without understanding is like the beasts that perish."  The key phrase is in verse 20.  The man who has wealth but no knowledge of God will not have the happy ending he believes he deserves.
     Years ago, we traveled to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.  It was a magnificent estate designed and built by George Vanderbilt for his family.  The extravagance, beauty and cost were unparalleled and it remains a treasure to visit even now.  However, George Vanderbilt has died and left his estate behind.  The wealth and power he enjoyed in life is no more.  I think that we as Christians tend to forget that life is brief.  We are not to envy those who have been blessed with financial resources, but we are to be content with the things which God gives to us.
     As for those who deceive, use their riches for evil, or abuse power, we know, according to the Bible, the Lord will deal with them.  They will face Him in judgement.  Therefore, we are not to fret or stew over the wicked.  Instead, we are to remember that God sent His Son to redeem us from the curse of the Law and give to us the inheritance of a kingdom that will far surpass this world.  We may not see or understand it all right now, but one day we will be with Him in paradise.  King David comforted himself with this knowledge and we must do the same.  Selah!

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