2002-07-21 - Socks and Chairs
Proverbs 23:4-5. "Do not weary yourself to gain wealth; cease from you consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone, for wealth certainly makes itself wings, like an eagle that flies toward the heavens."
When I was a kid, my dad had a job that caused him to interact regularly with the stock market. He would come home from work and say that he had sold a million shares of this or that company. I always heard "chairs." Other times, he would come home and tell us that the stocks had gone way up in price that day. I always heard "socks." As a kid, I had a mental image of my dad working in some huge place full of chairs and socks. I'm older now, and I have been able to figure this dilemma out.
If you have paid any attention lately to the markets, you will know, maybe even personally, that this has not been a great year for investors in the stock market. I know I have been getting hit hard of late. The markets were down 14.5% in the last two weeks alone. This year, in my personal investments -- which are small -- for every dollar I have put in, I have lost almost three dollars. That is not exactly the return I was counting on.
In my various experiences of life, I have learned that life is not about money. I have met a lot of people who talk about money constantly. Generally I have found that those who talk a lot about money don't have any, and those who don't talk about money often do have money. There is the old saying that he who dies with the most toys wins, but in truth it is more like he who dies with the most toys is still dead. It is not about money. So when markets fall or go up, my interest is more sociological than anything else.
The verse we started with is very instructive. Do not weary yourself to gain wealth. It is hard to apply this verse, because wealth is such a status symbol. But it is also something that ties us down. The more we have, the more we have to worry about. I look at Christ, who gave up all He had and thought it nothing to empty Himself of all, Philippians 2:1-11. Our lives are fleeting. Eternity is knocking at our door. And would we weary ourselves to gain wealth?
I am not saying that having wealth is wrong, but rather exactly what the verse focuses on, that worrying about it, or focusing on money is the thing we should avoid. Because as the passage says, wealth makes itself wings. Many who have depended on the stock market for early retirement, or for their future, have learned this the hard way. Wealth makes itself wings.
As Christians, we are the representatives of Christ here on Earth as long as we have breath. It is a high calling. We are here to represent -- and not simply represent, but to draw others to Christ through our representation. The Christian has a high calling. The stock market can go gangbusters, collapse, surprise us in whatever ways, but this should not rattle the Christian. We need to be wise in all our activities, but we should not be focused on worldliness. We are not of this world. We are ambassadors to a lost and dying world, and we need to live up to that calling.
Wealth certainly makes itself wings.I memorized these two verses 15 years ago when I was starting college, and they have stood me well. I encourage you to memorize these verses also.
Soli Deo Gloria,