Junkyard Empires

I guess they’re referred to as some kind of recycling center these days, but when I was younger, they were just called junkyards — and I loved them. My first car was a refugee from one of them – or more accurately, from several of them. When I think of junkyards, the old Sanford and Son series that ran from 1972 to 1977 comes to mind. Were it not for our country’s rabid obsession with racism, the show left behind some images and comedic lines that would still endure as classics. The freedom we had to laugh at stereotypes like Archie Bunker and Fred Sanford has been sacrificed on the altar of racist politics and woke censorship. I’ll probably be attacked (again) by some progressive internet troll for using an illustration taken from the show, but it looks like I’m doing it anyway.

A Classic Line ~
There was a recurrent scene in the Sanford and Son series where Fred Sanford would wave his hand in a grand gesture toward the junkyard over which he presided and refer to it as his empire. Obviously, referring to a run-down looking collection of worn-out furniture, dented appliances, and otherJunkyard.1 nondescript household castaways as an empire was pretty funny. The humor worked because nobody seriously thinks of a collection of fugitives from a landfill as an empire. But what if they did? What if someone’s legacy that they had worked a lifetime to build turned out to be nothing more than worthless junk? Bequeathing an “empire” like that would trigger more tears than gratitude, but unfortunately, it happens in more ways than we might think.

One thing we learn about this world is that values can change, and sometimes financial empires do become junkyards. I knew someone once who demonstrated that principle. He was an avid collector of clocks. Most of his discretionary time was devoted to seeking deals on unusual and artistic examples of clockmaker workmanship. He didn’t want them for personal use, but saw them as potentially lucrative investments. They were deemed to have significant value at the time because most of them were somewhat unique. It wasn’t so much the material involved in their construction that made them valuable, but the fact that their production was very limited, which made them hard to find. He kept them in pristine condition and stored them securely in a climate-controlled environment. They were expensive by the prevailing standards when he bought them, and he was assured that they would grow more and more valuable as the years went by. He did all he could to ensure that they would bring the highest prices if and when they were eventually sold. 

Values Change ~
Everyone who knew him was of the opinion that whoever inherited his extensive collection of clocks would receive a collection worth quite a lot of money. Unfortunately, that’s not how it turned out. By the time God ushered him into His presence, generations had passed and opinions regarding the desirability junkyard.2of old wind-up clocks had changed. The younger generation who inherited them had no interest in any of those things he invested a lifetime accumulating. Trying to sell them was an exercise in futility. Not only did no one want to pay anything for them, it was nearly impossible to give them away. Most of the “empire” he left behind was woefully outdated, destined to end up as part of a landfill somewhere. It’s a sad process God wants none of us to replicate in any fashion, especially spiritually.

Obviously, the Bible’s primary purpose is not to present a treatise on investments, market trends, and economic philosophies. But because they have spiritual influence, and because they are an inescapable part of our lives, God does not ignore them. Much of what He says about wealth and material possessions is negative, but God does not categorically condemn either. Some of His most renowned servants were rich by worldly standards. Money has vitally important pragmatic benefits, but that’s not what tends to get us into trouble. 

A Challenging Contrast ~
The danger of wealth lies in its seductive power and the deceptive illusions that come with it. Abundance can distort our vision and undermine our dependence on the God who allowed us to have it. The ease with which we can review and evaluate the purchasing power of our financial portfolio and thejunkyard.4 sense that we have some control over the process can sabotage or dilute our faith. We have no comparable means to directly evaluate the presence and power of God, much less to control what He does. Beyond that, it’s easy to forget that the wealth we so avidly seek comes laden with temptations that appeal to every facet of our fallen nature. We sometimes forget that with God, everything is spiritual, including money.

So, as we begin to navigate the financial uncertainties that lie ahead in 2022, it would be wise to consider some of the lessons God gave us about whatever empire we’re in the process of building. A couple of things are certain. We’re all building some kind of legacy. We will spend our lives accumulating stuff and investing in things – of that there is no doubt. The question is what kind of foundation are we building on, and will the value of what we’ve built survive when it’s put to the test? The Apostle Paul gave two admonitions that highlight our objectives. Both emphasize the importance of the materials we invest in and the foundations we choose when building a financial legacy, or for that matter, any other as well.  

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. (1 Timothy 6:17–19 NKJV)

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:11–15 NKJV)

A Time for Evaluation ~
With inflation on nearly everyone’s mind these days (except, of course, for those politicians, bureaucrats, and Wall Street moguls who could actually do something about it), choosing what to spend junkyard.3our money on and considering the value of our assets is demanding even more attention than usual. Because the real value of our money is already a hot topic, this would be an especially good time to shift gears and think about the legacy we’re building in a spiritual context. The implications associated with how we handle the resources God has given us extend far beyond this life. The consequences of bad choices in that realm exceed any loss we might incur in this world. 

We’d never consider withdrawing our life’s savings to squander it all on lottery tickets that have almost no chance of paying off, but we blithely choose to engage in behaviors that God clearly and repeatedly condemns with the delusional notion that it isn’t going to cost us anything. The truth is that ignoring the values God has placed on our behaviors, financially, behaviorally, and otherwise, comes with a 100% guarantee of losses that cannot be replaced.    

Building a life on the truth of God’s Word is the only way to ensure rewards that are impervious to market fluctuations. May God deliver us from the tragic disappointment of discovering too late that a lifetime of acquisitions turns out to be nothing more than another worthless junkyard empire.


“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below.  Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .

    • “The danger of wealth lies in its seductive power and the deceptive illusions that come with it. Abundance can distort our vision and undermine our dependence on the God who allowed us to have it.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
    • “It’s easy to forget that the wealth we so avidly seek comes laden with temptations that appeal to every facet of our fallen nature. We sometimes forget that with God, everything is spiritual, including money.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
    • “The real value of our money is a hot topic, so this would be a good time to think about the legacy we’re building in a spiritual context. Implications associated with how we handle the resources God gives us extend far beyond this life.”  @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
    • “Ignoring the values God has placed on our behaviors, financially, behaviorally, and otherwise, comes with a 100% guarantee of losses that cannot be replaced.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)  

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About Ron Gallagher, Ed.S

Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher, Humorist, Satirist, Blogger ... "Right Side Up Thinking ~ In an Upside Down World" For Ron's full bio, go to GallaghersPen.com/about/
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4 Responses to Junkyard Empires

  1. There is no sin in being wealthy, but managing such wealth as the good stewards Jesus would have us be is the key to leaving a legacy full of love and caring for others who may need some financial assistance down the road. This post really speaks to me as my brother and I have recently inherited quite a bit from my mother’s estate. It’s overwhelming, actually, but we are trying to envision the bigger picture. For example, neither Danny nor I have long-term health insurance; if we don’t save for that, we burden our children with an expense that could all too easily break them. We certainly don’t want that! So, we are being careful in how we both invest and spend for now.
    May we all be gracious and thankful stewards of all the gifts God gives us.
    Blessings, Ron!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Always so great to hear from you, Martha, and rejoicing with you that you’re feeling better–praise God for His healing grace. Thanks for the encouragement in your note, and we can relate to your situation regarding unexpected inheritances. The activity of God in our lives always come wrapped in opportunities to glorify Him with our response. God bless you for the faithful way you’ve responded to both.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. JD Wininger says:

    Brother; I’m not sure how you knew to write this post, or when you wrote it, but God knew what I would be spending my morning praying about today when He led you to write it. I’m preparing to start an 8-week small group study while I attempt to fill-in for our Sunday school teacher starting next week. As much as I can understand a subject, prepare for it, and make copies of handouts, etc., the best preparation is always seeking God. I love how your post this morning was an answer to this morning’s prayers. An affirmation that “He’s got this” and I have nothing to be concerned about. Thank you so much for allowing God to use you in bringing me the blessing of peace and confirmation this morning. What a mighty God we serve my friend. As someone who spent a career competing on analytics, data, and validating that data to make sound decisions, receiving a validating message from God goes a long way in affirming that I’m in His will. Thank you again for validating that my prayers are heard; and thank you for some great additions to my opening for this study. 🙂 God’s blessings my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Frustrates me that I can’t be a part of your new group, J.D, but Diane and I are praying that it will be fruitful and fulfilling for all of you. I can relate to the feeling of affirmation and encouragement that comes when God sort of gives us a nod that He’s all over something we’re about to undertake. Having been a recipient of the windows into God’s truth that He opens through you, and having enjoyed applying and sharing insights He keeps giving you, I have no doubt that those who gather around you will find the time they invest with you to be nourishing and profitable. On another note, I didn’t get on with the PJNet family Thursday evening–wasn’t feeling well, and it had been a challenging day, so I crashed early. If you were there, I’m sorry I didn’t get to say Howdy. I don’t know if you guys still freezing down there at the Cross-Dubya, but we’re anxiously praying for an early spring here in middle TN–had enough of days when it doesn’t get above freezing. Anyhow, God bless you for your willingness to take on new missions, my friend, and for your uplifting and characteristically gracious reaction to today’s piece. Please keep us in the loop about how it’s going so we can target our prayers most effectively.

      Liked by 1 person

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