Market Mania

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also – Matthew 6:21

Jesus warned us about storing up treasure for ourselves here on this planet where moth and rust destroy it and thieves can rip it off.  We should be contributing regularly to our heavenly 401K plan where Dow Jones downturns and the uncertainty of riches (I Tim. 6:17) won’t impact our return on investment.  The only truly secure security is the one that waits on ahead for us.

Our Lord wasn’t banning possessions, saying we shouldn’t save for a rainy day or prohibiting us from enjoying the material blessings He gives (I Tim 6:17).  Being good stewards of what He has given us is a necessary part of life and a role we are to exercise with wisdom (Proverbs 12:11, 27; 13:11, 22).  The Lord is more concerned with our focus than our financial net worth.

The saying “Easy come; easy go” is at least half-true.  Because money goes, it is an unworthy source of our security and object of our affection.  As Paul pointed out, money is uncertain and this uncertainty prevents us from being able to enjoy it for fear of losing it.  We try to protect and shelter it but there is always someone that is ready to take it away from us – the IRS, an unexpected health crisis, a broken fridge, a leaky radiator or roof, etc., etc.  And even if our money doesn’t go, at one time we will and you know the old saying “Ain’t no U-Hauls following the hearse!”  Our ultimate loss is like that of the Wall Street stockbroker who finds a lamp with a genie inside on his way to the office. He rubbed the lamp and  when given his wish he asked for a copy of the Wall Street Journal one year hence.  When his wish was granted he quickly turned to the NASDAQ page to plan his killing in stocks, but he got more than he bargained for.  On the opposite page he glimpsed his picture under the headline “Amazing Stock Picker Dies In Lear Jet Crash”.

Yet Jesus concern for our material possessions runs much deeper than the certainty of losing them all in the end.  Jesus concern for our attitude towards our “stuff” comes from his passionate concern for our hearts.  He knows that the love of money can cloud our vision and blur our focus.  This happened recently to me when a good friend from my high school days told me of a great internet IPO that his brother-in-law was in on.  It was going public at $38/share and was certain to go “through the roof”.  Not having thousands in excess cash on hand, I was left simply wishing I could get in on this great “opportunity”.  I found myself checking the paper daily to see how much I “could have made” had I been able to invest when the IPO first came out.  I found myself becoming discontent with my financial situation when the stock hit $63/share.  Now, after the beating the NASDAQ has taken, I am much more content as the stock hovers around $18/share – proving the validity of a quote I recently heard, “The only difference between Wall Street and Las Vegas is that they serve cocktails in Las Vegas!”  But seriously, when my “eyes” were fixed on the market my vision for the things in life that really mattered was obscured.

Jesus said, in the context of dealing with money, “If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matt. 6:22&23).  When your eyes can see only dollar signs then it won’t be long until your heart evaluates everything in monetary terms as well.  Paul warned us, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”  (I Tim 6:9-10, italics mine).  When money becomes our consuming focus, we will go to almost any lengths to acquire it.  Tossing aside our principles and previously cherished values simply to bolster our bottom line.

Ultimately, the love of money pushes God out of our hearts.  As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money”  (Matthew 6:24).  Jesus isn’t against materialism because it somehow deprives the poor but because it deprives us.

How’s your “eyesight” been lately?