July 3, 2011
Your Money or Your Life – Part 1
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Ecclesiastes 5: 8-20

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Let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ecclesiastes chapter five. If you’re with us for the first time this morning, welcome. We’re in an extended series of expositions on the book of Ecclesiastes. We just finished five or six sermons on verses one through seven, but we’re going to move a little bit quicker here in chapter five and chapter six. Want to preach on the subject your money or your life, and we’re really going to cover the second half of chapter five and all of chapter six this morning and next Sunday morning. But for the sake of time, we’ll just read from verse eight in Ecclesiastes five through to verse 20. If you see the oppression of the poor and the violent perversion of justice and righteousness in a province, do not marvel at the matter; for high official watches over high official, and higher officials are over them.
Moreover, the prophet of the land is for all; even the king is served from the field. He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them; so what profit have the owners except to see them with their eyes? The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep. There is a severe evil which I’ve seen under the sun; Riches kept for their owner to his hurt, but those riches perish through misfortune; when he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. And this also is a severe evil, just exactly as he came, so shall he go.
And what prophet has he who has labored for the wind? All his days he also eats in darkness, and he has such sorrow and sickness and anger. Here is what I’ve seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him part to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor, this is the gift of God. For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart. So reads, God’s infallible, sufficient and inerrant word. Stand and deliver, your money or your life. Those are the now famous and infamous words of the notorious English bandit and highwayman, Dick Turpin who combed the English countryside seeking to separate the rich from their riches.
It was his invitation to his unfortunate victims to either part with their money or say goodbye to this life. You might not think about it at first, but your money or your life is one of the Bible’s great invitations. Although the Bible does not repeat this exact phrase, the sentiment and the statement is found repeated throughout the word of God. The Bible questions those who tightly cling to their material possessions, to the peril of their own souls and spiritual welfare. The Bible is clear that a love of money leads to much harm and much hurt. Remember what Jesus said in Mark chapter eight, verse 36 through 37, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul, your money or your life? That’s the choice.
That’s the conflict. Jesus here talks about the possibility of losing one’s self, of losing one’s soul in seeking to amass or acquire this world’s goods. If we’re not careful, material wealth can come at the cost of spiritual privation. To have all that the world has to offer and yet not to have Jesus Christ is to be eternally bankrupt. That’s the implication of Jesus’ words and Jesus’ warning. In fact, Jesus himself tested the rich young ruler over this very thing, your money or your life. Remember in Mark chapter 10, verse 17 through 22, the rich young ruler comes to Jesus and says, what must I do to inherit eternal life? He says, I’ve kept the law from my youth. I’m serious about the things of God and eternal matters, and so Jesus tests him. Stand and deliver your money or your life, and Jesus tells them, okay, here’s what you’ve got to do.
Sell all your possessions and give them to the poor. Now, we want to understand clearly that Jesus was not making a vow of poverty, the price of admission into his kingdom, but what he was doing here was smoking out this young man in terms of his motives. He was testing the young man’s profession of love for God and a desire for eternal significance and security. But his love for God was false because Jesus tells us that you’re to love God and love your neighbor, and this young man loved his possessions more than he loved God and his neighbor. Jesus in the end proved him to be a classic and closet idolater. He had made a idol of his possessions. He was willing to give up his life for his money. This is the choice, this is the conflict. And it comes about because we as men and women mistakenly make material wealth and financial abundance the measure of success and the measure of significance in this life.
That’s the mistake we’re constantly making. It was made in Jesus’ day and we are repeating it in our day. Come on, let’s be honest. Our culture defines a man’s worth by a man’s wealth. Man of significance or man of material abundance. We live in a world without windows into the next. We live in a society more increasingly being shaped by the hypothesis of evolution, and therefore it’s not surprising that we’re now making matter, all that matters. Because in the doctrine of evolution, that’s all that matters, this short fleeting existence. Therefore, since this world is all that there is, then you better fight to get your slice of the cake. Because that’s how we define significance, that’s how we measure success. We assume that the more you have, the more you are. That’s one of the doctrines of materialism. Increasingly in our western culture, self-identity and self-worth is being determined by how much we possess and by how much we consume.
That’s why when you stand at the check-out counter at Ralphs or Vons or wherever you may shop, you’ve got racks of magazines enticing us to read about the rich and the famous. Why do we want to read about the rich and the famous? Because that’s how our culture defines success and significance. We read about them because we want to be like them. That’s what happens in a world without windows into the next. To become rich, to become financially secure is the benchmark of our culture. It’s what constitutes the good life. The good life is having more and more and more and more good things, but is it? Your money or your life? That’s the choice. That’s the conflict and it’s one we all struggle with. The comedian Jack Benny had a reputation as a miser and he liked to tell a story on himself, no doubt invented of a time when he was accosted by an armed robber with the words, your money or your life.
After a long pause, a robber said, well, to which Jack Benny replied, don’t rush me, I’m thinking. There may be some humor to that, but there’s a reality to it that’s rather sad and not humorous. What will a man give in exchange for his soul, is the question Jesus poses. And it’s a real issue because I’ll tell you this, you and I will be tempted to love money. Because money makes all the same promises that God does. Have you ever thought about that? That’s why it’s such a temptation. That’s why it’s such a trap. That’s why it’s such a real issue for a church like ours living in affluent America and then one of the jewels in the crown Orange County of all places. With such beauty, such bounty, such material wealth surrounding us each and every day. Money is a temptation because it promises all that God promises.
It says to us it will sustain us in good times and bad that it will support us when we’re sick, it’ll buy us happiness when we’re well. It promises us security now and if we amass enough of it promises us security the rest of our lives. In other words, if we have money we can become independent of government, of others and even of God it seems. That’s why Jesus said, didn’t he? In Mark chapter 10, verse 23 that it’s hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, why? Has God got it in for rich people? No. But their riches reduce their need of God and even replace God. That’s why Jesus said elsewhere in Matthew 6, verse 24, you can serve God, you can serve money, but you can’t serve both and we confuse one for the other sometimes. Because one promises all that God promises.
That’s the mistake we make. That’s why we come to this passage here in Ecclesiastes five and Ecclesiastes six. Given the danger and the seductive nature of money, and what it presents in terms of peril to our souls, we need to turn to this passage. Because here Solomon talks about the trap of making the acquisition of wealth, our life’s goal. And we live in a culture that talks to us about money and talks about money all the time and we’ve got money and material things on our brain, day by day, and you can’t avoid that. There is a sense in which money makes the world go around. We live in a world in which there’s commerce and the exchanging of goods and there’s nothing wrong with that in its place, but we’ve got to be careful because money is a temptation, money is a trap. It is a way of twisting our priorities.
It is a way of getting us off track spiritually. First Timothy six tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil and some have destroyed their faith, says Paul, because of it. Don’t trust in on certain riches. He reminds those at Ephesus and Solomon talks about the trap of the acquisition of wealth. There are various principles and proverbs throughout this passage. A chain of thought is evident and it’s linked together by the theme of poverty and wealth. In chapter five and verse eight, Solomon talks about the poor, in verse 10, he talks about money, in verse 11, he talks about the increase of good things. In verse 12, he talks about the rich man, in verses 13 and 14 he talks about riches and that theme spills over and seeps into chapter six.
So money matters are clearly the matter at hand. So, let’s take some time this morning to look at this passage and then we’ll come back to it more fully next Sunday morning. But Solomon wants to remind us of something he’s already stated earlier in this book, and that is that, that money has a fleeting and frustrating side to it, that there’s a disappointing nature to materialism. He’s talked about that back in chapter two verses four through 11, and he continues his negative evaluation of material things here in chapter five and six and he knows what he’s talking about, right? Here’s a man who in his lifetime had a super abundance of material things. According to the Bible, silver was as common as stones under Solomon’s administration.
In First Kings chapter 10, verse seven, the queen of Sheba comes to visit Solomon. She’s heard a lot about this king, she’s heard a lot about his kingdom, she gets there and she goes, wow. The half has not been told in terms of Solomon’s wisdom in Solomon’s wealth, this guy was well healed as we say. He had deep pockets, he could put his hand on a pot of gold, let alone a chest of silver at any time he wanted, but he had learned the hard way that money does not equate to more life.
In fact, the more you have of it, Solomon will argue, often the less it seems to benefit you. Let me give you an outline of this passage I found very helpful by Randy Alcorn in his little book, the Treasure Principle, which you should get your hands on and read. In outlining this passage here, he says this in verse 10, Solomon reminds us that the more you have, the more you want. In verse 10, he reminds us, the more you have, the less you’ll be satisfied. In verse 11, he reminds us, the more you have, the more people including the government will come after it. He reminds us in verse 11, the more you have, the more you realize it does not do you any good. In verse 12, the more you have, the more you to worry about. In verse 13, the more you have, the more you can hurt yourself by holding onto it.
Verse 14, the more you have, the more you have to lose, and the greater the disappointment when the loss comes. Verse 15, the more you have, the more you’ll leave behind, because there are no pockets in his stride. There’s no U-Hauls after the hearse. So the more you have in many ways, the less it benefits you. Money doesn’t deliver as much as it promises. It doesn’t equate to more happiness, more security, more contentment. In fact, when you get what you want, often times, you won’t want what you get. And so Solomon tackles this issue here in this passage and he’s driving towards a point, a point that’s made in verse 20. This is a chiasm in the Hebrew structure, we tend to think in lines, we think linearly, in straight line. A chain of thought that doesn’t meander, but a chiasm is an argument that can be structured like the steps on a pyramid.
On one side, Solomon argues towards something and the other side he argues from something. There’s a central point as Solomon talks about the fleeting and frustrating nature of money and his point is this, hey, riches and wealth come and go and they come from the hand of God, but sometimes God gives and sometimes God takes away. You can’t count on financial security across your lifetime. So whatever God gives, take it and hold it an open hand and above all remember that it came from His hand to your hand, so in the gifts, don’t forget the giver. All right? Enjoy what you have at a given moment, it may not be there the next but above all, enjoy the God who abides forever and who blesses us with all spiritual and material blessings. That’s the point he’ll make and we’ll really delve into that next week. Now as we come into this passage, I’m going to gather my thoughts around two thoughts.
We didn’t put it in your outline this morning, but if you’re taking notes, Solomon explodes some myths and Solomon explores some truths. That’s the two headings we’re going to put everything under. Solomon explodes some myths and we find him exploding these myths, on the second half of chapter five. Solomon sets out the dynamite out of our thinking, some deeply ingrained myths about the benefits of amassing material wealth. Jesus in Matthew 13:22 talks about what? He talks about the deceitfulness of riches. They say that money talks and it does, it lies. Okay? Money talks, it lies, it deceives us. It promises more than it can deliver. That’s Solomon’s point. Now there are four myths that he will explode. I think we can cover two of them this morning. Myth number one is verse 10, and myth number two is verse 11. The first myth that Solomon dynamites and explodes is, wealth brings satisfaction, Uh-huh not true, and then wealth brings sufficiency, uh-huh not true.
Look at verse 10. Solomon says this, he who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver. He who loves abundance will increase. This also is vanity. I’m not skipping over verses eight and nine, but I’m not going to spend a lot of time with them. They deal with the issue of injustice. The game is rigged. Those who are over the poor have rigged the game for themselves. One official looks over another official and another official looks out for another official and the little guy has no chance, the game’s rigged. And injustice takes place and having talked about the injustice of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, Solomon now turns the table and he focuses on the poverty of the wealthy. Verse 10, it’s the theme he’ll pick up in verse seven of chapter six, all the labor of man is for his mouth, yet the soul is not satisfied.
Although rich, the rich never feel rich. Isn’t that funny? The more they have doesn’t bring a settled sense of satisfaction. It just wets their appetite for more. It’s like drinking seawater. The purchase of one thing leads to the wanting of another thing bigger and better than before. The rich are just as poor as the poor in the sense that they’re always wanting something. There’s always something they don’t have. There’s always something to be grasped for. That’s the point that Solomon’s making here. No matter how much a person accumulates, there’s always the opportunity to acquire more and why settle for less? Remember if God has painted out of the picture, all that matters is matter, time and space and temporal things. So okay, you get something, but why be satisfied with it? More can be got and there’s this insatiable drive and desire for more. We would think those who have something would be happy.
All right? You’d think the rich would be happy, but when they get more, they want more. Just the opposite is true. Wealth creates and awakens desires innate in man, tied to his sin nature becomes greedy. An example of this, remember the parable that Nathan told to David of David? David had just stolen another man’s wife. He had committed adultery with Bathsheba. He had been party to the death of Uriah. He had stolen waters. Nathan tells a story of what? Of a rich man who steals a poor man’s lamb. He didn’t need it, did he? But he took it. That’s the amazing thing. Why did this rich man take what didn’t belong to him, what he didn’t need because that’s part of our nature, this insatiable desire for something more because when we walk away from God, nothing can take his place. There’s a hole in the soul that only God can fill and material things won’t do it.
But we make that mistake, we think the material things are the measure of success and significance and satisfaction. Not true. And Jesus reminds us of that. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Remember what J.D. Rockefeller, a man of great means a generation ago said when he was asked, what does it take to make a man happy? What did he say? His answer is classic, just a little bit more. Isn’t that the gospel truth? The former Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, the American who created such a storm in the forties in England is famous for saying, “You can never be too rich or too thin.” See, that’s where the world’s at. Or as someone has said, it’s hard to see of money, isn’t it? When your neighbor keeps buying things you can’t afford? To what they have, we want? And the more, the better, but we learn the costs, don’t we?
That wealth doesn’t bring satisfaction. In fact, Solomon will return to this theme in chapter six and remind us that wealth apart from God’s blessing brings no satisfaction. That’s the point of verses one and two. A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires. Yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it, that’s vanity, that’s a evil affliction. People who have things don’t get to enjoy them and they can’t enjoy them for wanting other things. That’s kind of what you have from verse 10 and verse two of chapter six. Reminding us, and I need to remind you this morning, there is a hollow center to material things. Never forget that. We are materialist as Christians, we’re not Gnostics, we don’t deny the physical, we don’t think it’s all evil, there are things to enjoy. Solomon will talk about that. God wants us to enjoy what we can eat and what we can drink.
God expects us to stand in awe to Southern California, sunset like we had last night at the end of a beautiful day. That’s good, but that’s not all that life’s about, is it? No, and if you put all your eggs into that basket, you’re going to be disappointed with what hatches. We’re reminded here that there’s a hollow center to material things. When you squeeze them for real deep soul satisfaction. That alone is found in God and the things of eternity. Even though money can offer temporary pleasure, it cannot satisfy the deepest human longing. Here’s what I said to myself. I love potato chips. It’s kind of my besetting sin, especially salt and vinegar. I love salt and vinegar potato chips and I get disappointed when I get one of those bags. In fact, I look for them, they’re kind of full and puffed. I go through all the racks until I find that bag that’s puffed and it sounds like and it feels like it’s got something in it, and then you open it and puff, you find maybe a half a dozen potato chips at the bottom of it.
In fact, these potato chip bags now, when you open them, the rush is so violent that your hair blows back. Puff, and then you open and you look inside and you go, wow, how disappointing is that? Then you have to buy yourself another bag just to get what you were wanting from the one bag. Somebody needs to run for Congress and sort those potato chip companies out because it’s a ripoff. But I think it’s an analogy of material things. You look inside and there’s not as much as you thought would be there. And God says, I told you, didn’t I tell you about the false advertising of the world. That it’s all about gnawing and the things that you can grasp on your way through? Come on, read Solomon, he’s been there, done that. He yawns, it’s all boring unless God’s a part of it, unless grace is at the center of it.
Quickly, there’s a second myth. Wealth brings satisfaction. That’s myth one and he explodes that. The second myth is wealth brings sufficiency. Verse 11, when goods increase, wow, you go, that’s where you want to be. All right? You want to be on the upswing. It’s a nice place to be in life, isn’t it? When you have got what you think you need and your riches are increasing, your bank balance is pretty healthy, your portfolio is looking pretty positive, your job security pretty good and you fall into the trap of Luke 12, you don’t even drink, be merry. It’s all good, and Solomon says, hold on a minute. When goods increase, they increase who eat them. You’re not as sufficient and self-sustaining as you think. Solomon torpedoes the idea that money subtracts your problems and divides your troubles. Not so, what it actually does is multiply your responsibilities and those to which you are obligated towards. As goods increase, so do those who consume them.
What’s Solomon’s point? Solomon’s point is this, money is not the magic cure all that we think it is and that the society presents it to be. In fact, the more you have, the more people will show up to enjoy a piece of your pie. That was true in Solomon’s day. In fact, if you go to First Kings four verse 22 to 28, we don’t have time to turn there but, you’re given a window into one of Solomon’s garden parties, and the amount of food and drink he needed to have to supply all the hangers on around the court, kind of amazing. It was true in Solomon’s day, possessions required more servants to care for them and perhaps the social obligation to provide for your extended family was extended. And what’s true then hasn’t changed much as we come into our day. The rich and the famous find people leaching onto them for selfish motives, isn’t that true?
In fact, go to the book of Proverbs. Proverbs chapter 14 and verse 20. You’ll find an interesting verse. Proverbs 14 and verse 20, the poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, but the rich has many friends. Why? Because they’re rich, for the most part. Some rich people are very interesting and have many friends, most rich people have many friends because they’re rich and somebody would like to stick their hand in their pocket. You get a similar thought in Proverbs 19 verses four through six. Wealth makes many friends but the poor is separated from his friend. A false witness will not go unpunished and he who speaks lies will not escape. Many and treat the fever of the nobility and every man as a friend, the one who gives gifts. That’s just the way it works, there’s no way to escape that.
When people become rich, they’ll need a maid to clean their house, a gardener to trim their lawn, a nanny to watch their kids, a chauffeur to drive their car, an accountant to keep their book, a banker to invest their money, a bodyguard to protect them and their family from all kinds of villainous people and in addition, the tax man will acquire his cut of the pie. In fact, when it comes to the issue of taxes, I enjoyed what a friend sent me a while ago looking at the different ways in which to govern people and the implications in terms of what the government gets and what the government takes. Someone said there’s socialism.
In socialism, you have two cows, you keep one and give one to your neighbor. In communism, you have two cows, the government takes them both and provides you with milk. In fascism, you have two cows, the government takes them and sells you the milk. Bureaucracy, you have two cows, the government takes them both shoots, one milks the other, pays you for the milk and then pours it down the drain. Capitalism, you have two cows, you sell one and buy a bull. Democracy. You have two cows, the government taxes you to the point that you must sell them both in order to pay the taxes to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.
Somebody’s going to show up the tax man or whatever at the door of the rich and want the slice of the cake. Now, you would think, wouldn’t you? Ironically, people think that the more money you have, the less dependent you are on people, the freer you’ll be, the more unencumbered, but the opposite is actually true. The rich quickly find themselves in shark infested waters where a feeding frenzy is going on over their money and their assets. They become the target for the scammer, the sponger, their wealth actually becomes a burden and becomes a liability. Solomon explodes two myths that are very popular, aren’t they? In our culture as in the ancient culture. Boy, have I had more, I’d be more satisfied and I’d be more sufficient. Not true. He who loves silver will not be satisfied by silver and when wealth increases, so do those who consume it. Which reminds us as we close that in all of this, it just goes to prove that we have forgotten what Jesus told us. In Luke chapter 12 verse 15, man’s life does not consist in the things that he possesses.
How many times do we need to come back to that verse? We need to tattoo it onto our conscience. We need to sew it into the fulls of our soul. We need to repeat it again and again to ourself. When we’re driving around Orange County, the man’s life and the quality of his life and the depth of his life and the significance of his life is not determined by the car he drives, the clothes he wears, the restaurants he eats in, the house he lives in, the vacations he goes on. No, life isn’t found there. Life isn’t rung up on a cash register like that. Life doesn’t consist in the things that you possess. Life consists in the one who possesses you, the one to whom belongs all possessions. The earth is the lord’s and the fullness are off. That’s where life is found and a relationship with God.
There are things that money cannot buy. If we’re to truly live, hope, a good conscience, faith, eternal security, forgiveness of sins, peace with God and the peace of God the name, but a few. Those are the things that money can’t buy. In fact, Tertullian, the church father said this and I like what he said. In AD 200, nothing that is God’s is obtainable by money. Isaiah 55 tells us to come and buy those things that money cannot buy. They’re for free. They’re ours if we’ll take them by the hand of faith. Jesus said that life does not consist and the things a man possesses and Jesus’ life proves. Jesus died with the clothes on his back basically and then they were stripped from him. He said in his lifetime, the foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, I have nowhere to lay my head.
Well, Lord Jesus lived on the other side of the tracks in a no nothing town called Nazareth. He was the son of a blue collar carpenter. There was no abundance in the home of Mary and Joseph. Jesus would’ve lived on hand me down clothes. You’re going to tell me Jesus’ life was a poor life? Jesus’ life stands head and should above every other life in terms of depth, significance, and eternal impact. His life was rich even though he was poor and his life enriched other lives because though he was rich, yet he was made poor that we might be enriched through his life, his death and his resurrection. Listen, according to Paul in Philippians chapter three, life is about amassing Christ, gaining Christ, having more of Christ, coming to faith in Him and then growing in faith in Him, growing in likeness to Him. Here’s where I finish.
You see, biblically speaking, it’s not what you have that determines your worth in this world. It’s whose you are, that’s what determines your worth. In fact, I came across a verse. I’d close my Bible, but I’m going to open it just to one verse in Psalm 135 in verse four. I love this and it makes my point. Psalm 135 in verse four, for the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel for his special treasure. That’s what counts. Life doesn’t consist in what you possess. Life consists in who possesses you. And if you know God, then you know the one who possesses it all and he gives it as he wills in the way he wants and we take it thankfully and humbly and we live to his glory. Ron Mehl, in his book Meeting God at the Dead Ends of Life, tells the story of a man by the name of Bob.
He was a connoisseur of garage sales, backyard sales. It was towards the end of a particular day where he had gone around a number of these in Downey, California. As he looked at particular wares outside a home, as I was drawn to a motorbike that was broken down and rusted in the corner of the garage and he talked to the owner to try and tempt them to sell it. Initially the man wouldn’t do it. He said look, there’s no point buying this bike. It was a Harley Davidson. He says, the engine’s frozen. He says, it’s really a bucket of rust. It’ll take more to fix this thing than go and buy yourself a new Harley. But Bob persisted, he talked the man into selling it. He got it for $35 and in a couple of days he got Ron to calling Harley Davidson. He gave them the serial number, the registration number, and he asked about parts, it was an older machine.
He said, are those parts available? I want you to work out for me what it’s going to cost me to restore this thing. As the clerk engaged him in conversation, all of a sudden the clerk went rather quiet and he said, you know what, Bob, he says, I’ll need to call you back. Somewhat strange and an abrupt ending to the conversation. Two days later, Bob gets a phone call from a high ranking manager at Harley Davidson saying, Bob, we need you to do something. He says, I want you to go to that bike. I want you to remove the seat, remove the saddle. He says, and take a look under it and tell me if there’s anything written. Bob goes and does that, and he comes back to the receiver, picks it up. He said, yeah. He says, there’s two words, The King.
The guy goes kind of quiet for a moment and he says, tell you what Bob? He says, we’d like to offer you $300,000 for that bike. Didn’t tell him anything. Just said, we’d like to offer you 300,000. He was gobsmacked. He was kind of, what? He says, I need to think about this. He didn’t really know what was going on, put the phone down. A day after that, he gets a call from Jay Leno, the talk show host. He says, Bob, I’d like to offer you $500,000 for your bike. You see, the penny I’m sure has dropped with you as it ultimately did drop with Bob. The king owned that bike, the king as in the king of rock and roll himself. Elvis owned that bike. It wasn’t much to look at. Its value was taken from who owned it, who had made it their possession.
And I would suggest to you this morning, that’s where true worth is found. It’s found being possessed and owned by God. It’s found by having a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the one who was rich, yet for our sake became poor, that we through his humiliation and death and poverty on the cross, his suffering for our sin. We through that poverty can be made rich. We can find hope, eternal security, forgiveness of sins and eternal significance through faith in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, Amen. Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for this passage of scripture that is as up-to-date as the headlines in the Los Angeles Times this morning. Boy does it meet us here in Orange County. Lord, we are surrounded by opulence and affluence and Lord, we thank you for the benefits of that. We thank you for our homes, we thank you for our communities, for the fact that they’re safe.
We thank you for the joy of enjoying the creation. It is so abundantly beautiful and around us. Lord, there are benefits, but help us not to exceed what those benefits are. Help us not to deify things, help us not to look for what you alone can give us in things. Lord, help us indeed this morning to remember, the giver behind all these gifts. Help us to remember that the greatest gift of all is eternal life through Jesus Christ. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through faith in our Lord Jesus. Help us Lord to live for those things that will echo out into eternity. Help us to be good stewards of our gifts. Help us to hold them with an open hand. Help us to enjoy them in the moment that we have them, but also be ready for you to remove them or life to steal them, at any point because we trust not in uncertain riches, but we trust in the one sure true and living God. And these things we ask and pray in his name. Amen.