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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, August 7, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 49:1–12

Hear this, all you peoples;
   give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
both low and high,
   rich and poor together.
My mouth shall speak wisdom;
   the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
   I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.

Why should I fear in times of trouble,
   when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
those who trust in their wealth
   and boast of the abundance of their riches?
Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,
   there is no price one can give to God for it.
For the ransom of life is costly,
   and can never suffice
that one should live on forever
   and never see the grave.

When we look at the wise, they die;
   fool and dolt perish together
   and leave their wealth to others.
Their graves are their homes forever,
   their dwelling places to all generations,
   though they named lands their own.
Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
   they are like the animals that perish. (NRSV)

Like the average one of us, every now and then I am enamored with wealth and material possessions. The symbols of success are so tempting that it is easy to fall for the understated marketing ploys that flaunt wealth and luxurious material belongings. Even in the most unsuspecting places, like a church sanctuary, we can become victims of the trappings associated with magnificence.

When wealth and greed become the prime focus of our attention we are in serious danger of forgetting that in the end we will appear before God with absolutely nothing. Thoughts of death and eternity can suddenly transform one’s focus, viewpoint, and priorities. No matter how impressive wealth may be, the fact of the matter is “you can’t take it with you.”

Rather than our devoting life to worldly treasures, the psalmist encourages us to invest in eternal values. We should regard our worldly wealth as a gift from God, to be used for the greater good, not self-aggrandizement.

Those with great wealth often inspire wonder, admiration, esteem, and envy. But this exaltation is temporary. How much or how little one accumulates in this world makes no difference in the end. As the psalmist states, “Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life; there is no price one can give to God for it.” Wealth and possessions will not survive beyond the grave.

Not even the most riches can protect us from trouble. Money cannot buy joy, neither can it buy security. I for one feel secure when I have funds stashed away to fall back on in the event of unanticipated hardship. Yet, in my heart of hearts I know that in the end there are some things money can’t buy.

Be reminded that eternal peace comes from knowing whose we are and not what we had.

Holy One, help us to live always not for what we can accumulate in this life but for the eternal treasures ahead. Amen.

Written by Robert Crouch, Director of Volunteer Ministry

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