How money are you?

Acts 27, Psalm 49, 1 Samuel 1-2
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tubthumping

This is exactly the image I have had all my life of what being rich is like. But I think my tub was bigger.

Peer pressure doesn’t end after high school.  As a man (from personal experience), an expectation arises that you’re supposed to make some money, and you’re supposed to make a lot of it.  Especially if you have a college degree.  Get a job, make your promotions, work hard for years to build up your retirement, and you’ll be happy-kindof.

Nearly the entire book of Ecclesiastes laments about those who subscribe to this state of mind. Surely there is value in hard work, and every man should labor intensely, but to what end?  Wealth?  Some empty expectation? Especially in a capitalist society, we can be locked up and shackled by a false understanding of what God wants us to do. We all have different callings, but I think we’re all called to something greater than the goal of a fancy job with some nice benefits.

Heeding the advice of the “lesser”.

One trap that we can find ourselves in quickly is that of the calculated, seasoned professional. In Acts, Paul is bound and being shipped off to Rome to continue with his trial. The narrator describes multiple difficulties in their voyage, and after a few days of unsuccessful sailing, Paul lets the captain and crew know that something terrible is afoot.  However, his warnings are ignored; the well-paid Roman guard is persuaded by the owner of the ship and the captain to carry forth. They pay the consequences soon after.

Continuing with trends and listening to the advice of so-called professionals can be dangerous, especially when God is warning you to do otherwise. The Lord should remain at the forefront of wisdom, not the heeding of man. Certainly experience is valuable, but not at the expense of God’s instruction.

Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain;
He is like the beasts that perish.

 This is the way of those who are foolish,
And of their posterity who approve their sayings.

Is being rich bad?

Jesus didn’t die to make you wealthy. God promises us what we need, but everything else is extra.  This doesn’t make wealth inherently evil, but the opportunity to distance yourself from God increases as the wallet continues to bulge.

How do you explain the disciples, Rabbi-school rejects and low-class citizens, who lived their entire lives sold out to Jesus only to encounter cruel deaths? Does God perceive them as less for their lack?

If you’re a Christian living your hardest to serve God, remember that what you give to others on this earth is more valuable than the stuff you accumulate.

Do not be afraid when one becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.
Though while he lives he blesses himself
(For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),
He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They shall never see light.
A man who is in honor, yet does not understand,
Is like the beasts that perish.

In the end, it doesn’t even matter.

No matter how much we try to prolong our lives, death is inevitable. We spend millions of dollars and endless hours of research attempting to eradicate disease and extend our days, yet our bodies still wither and eventually find the grave.

Rather than stretching out our lives, should not our urgency and fervency increase for every moment and hour we exist? Furthermore, should not our trust in the Lord and our determination to find Him on the other side of life also grow? It sickens me to see endless lives wasted, exhausted through wrestling for position and clawing for more money, all the while salvation is ignored, shelved for perhaps a later date, or passed up entirely, left dusty on the shelf right next to their deathbeds.

Why should I fear in the days of evil,
When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,
None of them can by any means redeem his brother,
Nor give to God a ransom for him—
For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever—
That he should continue to live eternally,
And not see the Pit.

God rewards the faithful, not the successful.

In 1 Samuel, Elkanah has a dysfunctional family. For starters, he has two wives: one can have kids, and the other one is barren. Hannah, the childless one, spends time praying in the tabernacle for offspring, and her “rival” as the text describes, is busy having ten kids. The text also points out that Elkanah loves Hannah more, but there’s something definitely amiss if the other is having so many kids.

The Lord recognizes Hannah’s plight and rewards her diligence in seeking Him with a child named Samuel. In a position of shame and ridicule, the Lord hears the cries of a broken woman and rewards her. While Hannah certainly lacked social favor, she found favor with God for her faithfulness.

It’s highly difficult not to compare ourselves to the more “successful” who surround us, but we must avoid it. The Lord is looking for the poor, broken, and destitute to seek His presence. Will you continue to clamor for more and better, or is it finally time to state in the garden of despair, “Nonetheless, Your will be done”? Indeed, the Lord will reward this attitude over the former.

Now for rich guy memes.  (Disclaimer: some profanity)

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