Fifty Ways To Lose Your Treasure

In his teenage and early-adult years, I would occasionally share this observation with my son, Matthew: “Some people have money because they earn a lot, and some people have money because they don’t spend it.” (When you’ve driven around the block a few times in life, you begin to notice these things!) Even today when young people tell me about working two or three jobs, I tell them that the good thing about working hard is that you earn a lot of money and you don’t have time to spend it. Start saving now! They laugh and nod in agreement, relating well from their new-found experience.

One of the ironies in life is that it takes years of toil and sacrifice to build up a cash reserve—“security” that can vanish in an instant! As King Solomon once wrote, “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:5). Earning is difficult, but losing money? Well, with apologies to songwriter, Paul Simon, there must be “Fifty Ways To Lose Your Treasure.”

Just purchase the bridge, Midge, fall for the spiel, Neil
Don’t need to beware, Clare, go shopping with glee
Go out and spend, Len, go buy that brand-new Benz
Just give me the cash, Flash, entrust it to me

You get the point. We can all think of famous “success stories”—business tycoons, movie stars, professional athletes—who had everything, only to lose everything.

Yet fiscal ruin pales in comparison to personal ruin—the loss of family and friends and faith and health. No one ever sets out to sacrifice these things in pursuit of worldly success; it just happens gradually, imperceptibly over time. And so, Solomon says to all who will cease striving long enough listen, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint” (Proverbs 23:4).

Think long-term, make good decisions, value life balance—I think that’s what Solomon is saying. I’ll take his word for it. Seems like a wise enough guy.

Father, thank you for every good gift that comes from you. Lead me into wise decisions, that I would seek you each day and invest this life into the well-being of those you put in my path today. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is wisdom.

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