Sunday, April 26, 2009

Don't be jealous of the wealthy

2a my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. 3 For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pangs in their death, But their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride serves as their necklace; Violence covers them like a garment. 7 Their eyes bulge with abundance; They have more than heart could wish. 8 They scoff and speak wickedly concerning oppression; They speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue walks through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return here, And waters of a full cup are drained by them. 11 And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge in the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, Who are always at ease; They increase in riches. 13 Surely I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocence. 14 For all day long I have been plagued, And chastened every morning. 15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” Behold, I would have been untrue to the generation of Your children. 16 When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me— 17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; Then I understood their end. 18 Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. 19 Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. 20 As a dream when one awakes, So, Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image. (Psalm 73: 2b-20)

It is not wrong to be wealthy, but it is wrong to trust in our riches. Such false trust is idolatry, and God will not allow idols to remain standing.

Just the other day I learned of a Billionaire American who committed suicide because he lost his investments in the resent Global Economic Crisis. Such was the case in the Great Depression, when many people committed suicide when they lost their life savings in the stock market crash of the 1930's.

God blesses the righteous, and if we have food, clothing, and a roof over our heads, we ought to be thankful for the provision of the Lord. If we find ourselves a part of a caring, God-fearing church, then we should take a moment to reflect upon the end of the idolatrous wealthy. Their wealth is not be be coveted, because for many of the wealthy their lives seem to be lived with great ease, yet God says that they walk upon slippery paths; in a moment their wealth can disappear (through war, failure of credit, earthquake, fire and so on), and where is their hope then?

Lord, thank you for the modest blessings that I and my family enjoy. Thank you that I have an income in a time when many people are without employment; thank you that I have a lovely home to rent, when many have no roof over their heads due to a shortage of affordable accommodation; thank you that I have an abundance of food upon my table, and have enough to share with others who come to my home; thank you that I am warmly clothed.

May I be preserved from the kind of envy that the Psalmist above writes about. May I find contentment within the boundaries of God's blessing upon my life; and especially within the context of the redeemed community I find myself in - God's sanctuary in this city in which I live.

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