Is it all about the money?

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,

but righteousness delivers from death.

-- Proverbs 11:4

In the classic Coen Brothers' film, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", John Goodman portrays a corrupt Bible salesman, given to high crimes and misdemeanors. When asked to explain himself, he retorts, "It's all about the money, boys!" He speaks for many.

Most people make most decisions in life based upon what will make them the most money. In olden days before women were afforded equal educational and employment opportunities, many girls married for money. Many guys did, too.

Nowadays when a young woman or man evaluates career choices, most grab for the golden ring. I did, in my youth. I was drawn and well-suited for a career in journalism, like my father, or in coaching, like my main mentors in life. But there did not seem to be enough money in it. Instead, I majored in business and landed the highest-paying job with the biggest company I could find.

A few years in, however, God gave me another chance. He called me to a career in Christian ministry. It was costly. I left a high-paying job, paid for two seminary degrees, and accepted pastorates in churches that offered me a fraction of what I was making in my business career. If I could regain the difference in cash now, it would be like hitting the lottery.

I'm no hero, but I'm no fool, either. I simply came to a crossroads in life where I had to make an important decision. Would I choose the path paved with the most money, or would I go in the direction that seemed right with God? Like the Frost poem, I took the road less traveled. In spite of the ensuing hardships and heartaches, I would do it again every time. As the famous missionary Jim Elliot said, "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Every faithful clergyman, missionary, and member of the nonprofit workforce has made the same detour. They forsook riches for what they perceived to be the right thing to do. They valued helping others higher than helping themselves. God bless them, one and all.

And God bless you, even if you did land a profitable career in medicine, law, business or some other financially fruitful field. It may well have been a godly pursuit just as noble as any ministerial calling. You may have even done more good. But the fact remains, you've got riches now, in most cases, so what are you going to do with them? How about the right thing!

Give generously to those who chose to walk that lower road, from the world's point of view. Financially undergird the church and charity that puts people into the field to do the most eternal and earthly good. Put a portion of your fortune in your last will and testament that will testify to your good will toward spreading the gospel, healing bodies, and saving souls.

Speak encouragingly to the next generation about pursuing a career based not on dollars, but on a sense of purpose to help others. We need more pastors and missionaries. We also need more teachers and journalists. We need more people choosing paths and making decisions based upon the right thing to do, rather than the most money to make.

No one comes to the end of life and wishes they had spent more time at the office. No one takes earthly riches with them when they go. I've never seen cash in the casket, nor a hearse towing a U-Haul. One day you will leave it all behind. The question is, to whom or to what cause will you leave it? Ask the Lord for guidance, He will show you the right thing to do.

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected].

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