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 other 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 of 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 the 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 our 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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