Echoes From the Campfire

To each of us is given a life.  To live with honor and to pass on having left our mark, it is only essential that we do our part, that we leave our children strong.  Nothing exists long when its time is passed.  Wealth is important only to the small of mind.  The important thing is to do the best one can with what one has.”
              –Louis L’Amour  (Hondo)

    “Because you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t know that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”
              –Revelation 3:17(HCSB)
Do you remember the story that Jesus told of the rich man who had great wealth?  He would tear down his barns to build bigger ones as he had so much grain.  He then figured he could sit back and enjoy his wealth.  God had another plan, for that night the rich man would die. (Luke 12:16-21).
    Listen, death is inevitable.  The wealthy are going to die just as the poor along with you and me.  They may leave behind a legacy of wealth (i.e., Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, etc.), they may have buildings named after them, schools may carry their name, but in the grave they are no different than anyone else.  Before commenting further, read the remaining portion of Psalm 49.

    10 – For one can see that wise men die; foolish and stupid men also pass away.  Then they leave their wealth to others.
    11 – Their graves are their eternal homes, their homes from generation to generation, though they have named estates after themselves.
    12 – But despite his assets, man will not last; he is like the animals that perish.
    13 – This is the way of those who are arrogant, and of their followers, who approve of their words.  Selah
    14 – Like sheep they are headed for Sheol; Death will shepherd them.  The upright will rule over them in the morning,
and their form will waste away in Sheol, far from their lofty abode.
    15 – But God will redeem my life from the power of Sheol, for He will take me.  Selah
    16 – Do not be afraid when a man gets rich, when the wealth of his house increases.
    17 – For when he dies, he will take nothing at all; his wealth will not follow him down.
    18 – Though he praises himself during his lifetime—and people praise you when you do well for yourself—
    19 – he will go to the generation of his fathers; they will never see the light.
    20 – A man with valuable possessions but without understanding is like the animals that perish.  (HCSB)

    People tend to measure things in money or wealth.  Athletes, entertainers, powerful CEOs all point to the money they make.  Oh, some of them may make a token gift to charity and the media proclaims them great philanthropists, but really they should be asking themselves the question, “What will you give in exchange for your soul?”  
    So many people trust in their wealth, or in the wealth of their friends.  This Psalm speaks to those people.  John J. Durham said this, “It is foolish as well as dangerous to put one’s trust in something which is even less stable than the man himself.”  Listen–you can’t take it with you!  Why trust in something tangible?  Why put your money in stocks where who knows what could happen?
    I like the way George Wood puts it, “Things are turned upside down in the afterlife.”  We must, as believers grasp hold of the vital truth that we are but pilgrims in this world.  We are traveling to a heavenly city, so why encumber ourselves with the wealth of the world thinking that it can save you? Jesus said that it was hard for a rich man to get to heaven and one reason for this is that they trust in their riches instead of in the blood of Jesus Christ.  Being poor has that advantage–where can they put their trust?
    There are two key verses here.  The first, verse 15, look at your redemption.  From Who, from where does it come and what is the result?  Christ is our Redeemer!  He is the one Who will redeem us from the grave.  The second is verse 20.  The man with possessions is not the problem; it is the man without understanding.  “Don’t be overawed by the external glitz.  The splendor and the good vibes of others’ praise will soon be gone.  Worldly magnificence is only temporal.  The psalm closes–not by castigating the rich, but by condemning wealth ‘without understanding.’  If in order to be ‘wealthy’ in anything I have to deceive or take advantage of another person, trust myself rather than God, do it my way rather than His, then my so-called wealth will ruin me.  The only ones who don’t get this meassage are as beasts who perish.  How dumb!” (George O. Wood)

              “Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
               Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care;
               Then when all of life is over, and our work on earth is done,
               And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”
                       –James M. Black