14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; Death shall feed on them; the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling. 15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me. Selah. 16 Do not be afraid when one becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; 17 for when he dies he shall carry nothing away; his glory shall not descend after him. 18 Though while he lives he blesses himself (for men will praise you when you do well for yourself), 19 he shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. 20A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish.
THE PSALMIST compares sheep with the foolish who trust in riches. It isn’t a pretty picture! Death feeds upon them, their beauty consumed in the grave. Then the psalmist continues: “But God . . . !” He will redeem my soul from the power of the grave (v. 15). Verse 16 continues with “Do not be afraid when one becomes rich. . . .” There are those who are rich and abuse their position in life, and we are told not to fear them. But there is another meaning here, and it may be the primary one: “I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked” (Psalm 73:3). There is a very important truth here: You may struggle in life as one who has been made rich in Christ but who finds it a real battle to make ends meet. Like the author of Psalm 73, you’re tempted to look at those who do wickedly yet live prosperously as a cause for “slipping up” in your own walk. But the psalmist says that your best life is your next life, and you’ve been redeemed from the power of the grave. No one takes his wealth with him!
Both those who bless themselves (v. 18), and those who praise a person just because he has money, shall die like everyone else and not see the morning light (v. 14). Those who are honored in this life with material things but don’t understand that the ability to gain wealth comes from God, will find that their lives and their accumulation of wealth will have been a waste. Saints, listen: The best things in life are those we send ahead, not what we leave behind. I’m speaking of sowing into God’s kingdom, not physical reaping of wealth. There’s nothing wrong with planning ahead or investing for the future. Just make sure that you’re also investing in the spiritual long term as well!
Matthew 5:11-12 tells us that we’re blessed when reviled and persecuted for the name of Christ. Sadly, in our country no one is going to “revile and perse- cute”—or even challenge—the disengaged, compromised Christian. As a matter of fact, they will praise him even as many are praising the churches that support marriage equality or anti-Semitism. The Bible refers to our rewards as crowns, but the reward in heaven that will be second only to being in the presence of God forever will be to meet those who are there because of our efforts through the Lord to reach them for Christ.
Christian, we’re going to be in heaven for a long time. We’ll be reunited with lost loved ones, see Jesus face to face, talk to the saints of old, and who knows what else? But the best things in life are those we send ahead, not what we leave behind. It is only what we’ve done for God’s name and glory that will be remembered forevermore. Money isn’t evil, but loving it can pierce you through with many sorrows. Let’s choose good instead, and remember that we are sowing into eternity by our good works done in Jesus’ name!
Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.