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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, July 31, 2022  

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 Pit.

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)

Recent headlines are full of news concerning the bear market, and many an investor is stewing over the evaporation of more than 20 percent of their savings. People are wondering how this steep downturn affects their retirement plans or their ability to pay for a child’s college tuition. People who considered themselves secure, even rich, have lost trust in their wealthiness.

What an appropriate time to recall Henry Ward Beecher, the nineteenth-century Presbyterian pastor and abolitionist, who said, “No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is, not according to what he has.”

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6 Jesus tells us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” And in chapter 19 Jesus shows us how we might do this when he instructs a young acolyte to sell what he has and give to the poor.

What is truly important in our earthly life doesn’t hinge on how much money we have. Monetary wealth doesn’t equate to our worth in Jesus’ eyes, but how we choose to use the means we have does matter. What’s important to God is how we care for one another.

Gracious God, thank you for the assurance that what matters is not what I have but what I am. God, help me to recognize the need in my neighbors and strangers alike and to give to them with a generous heart as Jesus has taught me. Amen.

Written by Sarah Younger, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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