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Overawed with Riches
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Just last week, my husband received a newsy e-mail from some old college friends of ours. Having not heard from them for a couple years, he eagerly read the message and passed the word along to me. The update on their life fairly glowed. They enjoy lucrative and upwardly mobile careers, they fill various leadership roles in their church and community, and they are moving into a new house at least twice the size of ours. In comparison, our life ranks average at best. I tried to be happy for our friends. I replied with all the right congratulatory things at least, but inside feelings of envy began welling up. I knew it was wrong of me, but I couldn’t shake it. The rest of that day I stewed inwardly with personal discontent.

Believe it or not, my jealousy and envy actually breached one of the Ten Commandments. The tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17) clearly states not to covet the possessions of others. According to Webster, to covet is to “desire enviously what belongs to another.”

Envious Desire

Later that night, when I sat down in a huff to finally read my Bible, God spoke to me regarding my envious desire of what belonged to my friends. I turned to the book of Psalms, and there—where I least expected to find it—was just the text I needed.

“Do not be overawed when a man grows rich, when the splendor of his house increases; for he will take nothing with him when he dies, his splendor will not descend with him” (Psalms 49:16-17). *

I took a deep breath and felt a peace wash over me as I read and re-read the verses. I finally mustered a genuine happiness for my friends’ prosperity and success. In a not-so-subtle way, God reminded me not to fixate on their money and the “increasing splendor” of their new house. Material things are not evil but neither are they eternal. In short, riches don’t deserve my “overawed” reaction, and they certainly aren’t worth breaking the tenth commandment for!

* This chapter goes on to speak to the fact that those who have riches without understanding of God will never see the light of life and will perish. I certainly do not accuse my friends (or anyone else) of this. That is not my point here.

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By Hannah Henry. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture take from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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