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You Can't Take It With You...

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There is a very old saying about money: “You can’t take it with you.” Truly, when life is over, we leave everything behind. This ancient bit of wisdom comes right out of the Bible.

Life’s most simple and yet profound pearls of wisdom are found in the pages of the Bible. The modern-day maxim that we “can’t take it with us” is found in the book of Ecclesiastes, written by ancient Israel’s King Solomon. Ecclesiastes is a book filled with eloquent advice, sharing truths about fleeting human life. As it reminds us, our life’s work and pleasures are all-too-brief.

At some point, most of us reflect on the meaning of life. Many, especially in the prosperous Western nations, have seemingly made the pursuit of money their life’s work. Some have amassed such huge fortunes that they could scarcely spend it all in a lifetime of reckless squandering. But even the greatest fortune is only vanity and emptiness in the long run. “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 have 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” (Ecclesiastes 5:10–15).

No, we cannot take it with us.

Paul repeats this profound truth in a letter to the young evangelist Timothy. “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” Paul goes on to share an important perspective about money, noting that if we have the basic necessities, we should be content. He also warns about the desire to be rich. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:7–10).

Notice that money itself is not evil—what is evil is the unbalanced pursuit of money. Clearly, the Bible is not against money. Abraham, Job, David, and others were all very wealthy, having received God’s blessings. These patriarchs worshiped God faithfully and did not lose the right perspective about money.

Christ reminded His disciples that they cannot serve two masters. They cannot serve both God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). “Mammon” means riches, wealth or possessions. People who put their trust in money, wealth or possessions have made it an idol in place of God.

Yet although we are not to trust in money, we must use it responsibly. If God is going to bless us with His true riches, He expects us to be faithful in the “unrighteous mammon” (Luke 16:11).  Consider also the example of the parables in Matthew 25 and Luke 19. Christians are not to be lazy and thoughtless about money; they are to be profitable servants and faithful stewards of what they are given.

Physical life is fleeting. Jesus Christ tells us not to try to store up treasures on earth, “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20). Truly, we do not need to take anything with us. We will inherit the universe.  To learn more, watch the vital telecasts "How to Make Better Decisions" and "The Marketing of Greed" today!

  Originally Published: 29th March 2012