Find True Joy in Christ, Not Material Things
- Judy Woodward Bates Baptist Press
- 2004 4 Oct
The Book of Revelation reveals the events of the final days of the world as we know it. In Revelation 18, verses 11-13, we read:
"The merchants of the earth will also weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their merchandise any longer -- merchandise of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; fine fabrics of linen, purple, silk, and scarlet; all kinds of fragrant wood products; brass, iron, and marble; cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, and frankincense; wine, olive oil, fine wheat flour, and grain; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human bodies and souls."
Let's turn this into today's shopping list:
• Gold and silver: The basis for our monetary system. The best jewelry. The finest ornamentation.
• Precious stones and pearls: All still popular today. All still symbols of being "well-to-do."
• Fine fabrics of linen, purple, silk and scarlet: Designer labels. The latest fashions.
• All kinds of fragrant wood products: Cedar-lined closets. Mahogany, cherry, oak. Fine woods that let people know, "Hey, I'm successful. I can afford this stuff."
• Brass, iron and marble: Fancy furnishings. Ornately carved beds. Marble floors, mantels, countertops, furniture. All symbols of the luxury one can afford.
• Cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh and frankincense: Not just nice perfumes, but the finest. The most expensive. The "in" names.
• Wine, olive oil, fine wheat flour and grain: Fabulous foods. The very best restaurants. The best of everything, just the way it should be when image is everything.
• Cattle and sheep: Status symbols. Here I think we can see not just Black Angus steaks and superb dining, but the accumulation of wealth. In biblical days, the more cattle and sheep you owned, the more obvious your wealth, your affluence. Let's compare these to today's humongous mortgaged-to-the-hilt houses; those extra vacation homes; any and everything we accumulate to show people our luxurious lifestyles.
• Horses and carriages: Ah, we can figure this out pretty easily, can't we? Cars, cars and more cars. Not just basic transportation, but cars that promote the right image. Cars that cost a fortune in payments, insurance and operating expenses. Not to mention the other things like golf carts, Seadoos, four-wheelers, boats, etc.
• And human bodies: While most of us abhor the thought of buying and selling human slaves, it still occurs. But there are many other ways of trading in human lives: Human beings are still bought and sold every day through prostitution, pornography and, yes, even through entrapment through debt. When you owe someone, you are, according to Proverbs 22:7, "the lender's slave."
• And souls: Through intimidation, humiliation, degradation and deprivation, the human spirit can be beaten down and defeated. Some people work at knowing just how to push all these buttons. I think this phrase speaks not only of this, but of those who willfully draw "souls" (that eternal essence created in the image of God within every human being) into the things that lead to destruction.
But the focus of the list in Revelation is on the commerce that will stop taking place. When what Revelation refers to as "the new Babylon" is destroyed, the economy will crash along with it. People no longer will be seeking status; instead, they will be desperately clawing to survive.
When you lose your health or lose a loved one, material things suddenly take a back seat. You realize how fleeting life is and how insignificant these temporal things really area. For those of us today who claim the name of Jesus Christ, Revelation 18:11-13 is a very relevant wake-up call to keep our priorities in order.
No, there's nothing wrong with having "stuff." But we need to keep "stuff" where it belongs -- secondary to everything that is eternal.
When the people of the last days lose their material possessions, they also will experience the loss of loved ones ("death") and their own health ("famine"). And they won't know what to do. They'll have nothing else on which to lean and no one they can turn to.
What about you? Could you keep your joy and lose your "stuff"? You can if your joy is in Jesus. Thank God today for every material blessing He has given you. Thank Him even more for the eternal blessings He has promised.
Judy Woodward Bates is a Christian speaker, author of The Gospel Truth about Money Management and creator of Bargainomics(r), a Bible-based time and money management philosophy. Check her speaking schedule and find more information on her website: www.bargainomics.com. All Scripture quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.