The Limitations of Wealth



Do not be overawed when others grow rich, when the splendor of their houses increases; for they will take nothing with them when they die, their splendor will not descend with them.
~Psalm 49:16-17, NIV


It is no sin to have wealth, provided we earn it honestly, spend it wisely, and invest it faithfully in that which pleases the LORD.
~Warren W. Wiersbe
Psalm 49 is a stern warning against putting your confidence in wealth. The world that we live in is obsessed with wealth; it is the primary standard by which we measure success. If you obtain wealth, you will have power, recognition and possibly fame. No one is our society considers a rich man a failure. I suppose it has always been so because the writer of this Psalm warns: don’t be over-awed when others grow rich.

Ironically, I woke up yesterday morning thinking about my 50th high school reunion and the people who snubbed me after 50 years. It’s like nothing has changed: they thought they were better than me in high school and they still fell the same way. Why does this bother me? My life has been devoted to helping others, not accumulating wealth and I would not change that if I could but why do I still feel intimidated by those who have been successful in terms of amassing riches? When I opened my bible for my morning devotion and saw Psalm 49, I thought, “Gee, great, this is going to be exciting, not!” What could God possibly say to me about the limitations of wealth and the certainty of death that would inspire me? Wow, was I wrong, Psalm 49 was just what the Doctor ordered, just what I needed.

We are not to be obsessed with gaining wealth: this is not our primary goal. We are not to be seduced by its power and we are not to revere or worship those who have accumulated great wealth. We are not to be over-awed with their success. The Hebrew word yare’ is translated ‘afraid’ in most translations but it is the same word for awe, worship or fear of God. Sometimes we put the rich on a pedestal and revere them as though they are God. Psalm 49 begins with these words–Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all who live in this world, both low and high, rich and poor alike. How do you classify yourself? Do you think of yourself as being rich or poor, high classed or low? I have never thought of myself as being high classed, elite or wealthy and for good reason: I am not.

Many years ago I was invited to a reception and from the moment I walked in, I felt out of place. There were bars and bartenders, extravagant fixtures and servants all dressed in uniforms that cost more than my suit. I meandered for a few minutes and then headed for the exit. As I sought to slip out quietly and unnoticed by the guest of honor, I bumped into an old friend: he said, “Where are you going? The party has not started yet.” I said, “I know but I don’t belong here. I look like Jethro Bodine among these fancy dressers. I have nothing in common with these rich folks.” He said, “Ah shot, they are no better than you. Just go in there and act like you are just as good as they are.” I appreciated his kind advice but I left and went to McDonalds.

Good or bad, John Conlee’s song fits me like a glove…

I’m just a common man, drive a common van
My dog ain’t got a pedigree
If I have my say, it gonna stay that way
‘Cause high-browed people lose their sanity
And a common man is what I’ll be.

  • I had a great day yesterday; I don’t know how those who had to endure me feel but I had a ball. Had to cut the sermon short last night. I left out one good story about Martin Luther. The sermons are on line.
  • We had some excitement last night about 9:00. June was watching TV and I was at the computer when we heard a thunderous car crash. We ran out and I heard a woman screaming. June called 911 and then went to check on the woman, I went up to stop traffic. Miraculously, no one was hurt bad. They carried two in by Ambulance but only as a precaution. I was so relieved that no one was hurt bad but it still shook me. This road is dangerous.
  • Joe David and family will be traveling today. They should arrive in Atlanta around 8:30. Seth is on the ground in the Ukraine.
  • I hope to plant some peas this week if the ground dries up. A couple more days like yesterday and it will be dry enough to plow. Hey, I am getting a dog today. A blue healer. I have never met a blue healer that liked me. I just hope it hates coons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *