Today, I wanted to offer some further reflections I’ve had after reading about the life of a man who many people would assume was great; Alexander of Macedonia, the conquering king. By the time he was 26 or 27 years old, depending whose historical accounting you read, this Greek man had conquered his own native country, had demonstrated his dominion into the Northern tip of Africa subduing the Egyptians, eventually defeating the mighty Medo-Persian Empire. As time went on he began to set his sights further to the west towards India, but his men were war weary and no longer wanted to go further.
During this period of Alexander’s life (about 5-6 years), this once brilliant military tactician fell headlong into the swirling depths of every imaginable debauchery. His treasure hoard was vast, and he spent his time and wealth pursuing various forms of indecent deeds. As time went on his arrogance grew into an irrational paranoia fearing enemies even among his closest allies, men who had risked their very lives to save his own.
Alexander slaughtered those individuals, and then wept bitterly afterwards torn by his own conscience testifying against him. He had been raised in a society that idolized the might of men, as well as the possessions of this earth; not just material possessions, but glory and power and authority. And for a time this was granted to him from above, but in the end the idols that he bowed down to took his life.
Jesus of Nazareth years later taught a parable of a man who had been granted many of the things that Alexander had; namely, wealth, power and in some measure the glory of this life. This individual, according to Jesus, thought to himself I have amassed much, but my current method of retaining this wealth is limited therefore, “I will do this…I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself” (Luke 12.18-19).1 And yet, Jesus says that the verdict will be as follows regarding individual’s personal economy2: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things that you have prepared—what will they be? (Luke 12.20). The Lord adds, “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God” (Luke 12.21).
The problem is not with amassing wealth, contrary to the modern left-leaning ideology plaguing our Western society today. The problem is rooted in the desires of the heart. When this life—that is a life wrapped up in your own selfish pursuits, mindless of the God who created you—is all that you covet, then one day when the gavel sounds eternity will be nothing but mournful sorrow seated in regret.
Reality when boiled down is this…. Apart from the Triune Creator, mankind is left with a bankrupt economy. No life. No love. No faith. No kindness. No mercy. No holiness. No righteousness. No knowledge. No wisdom, etc. That is the sum total of all people apart from God. Who is, by the way only accessible through Jesus Christ (John 14.6), and this not by might, nor wisdom, nor wealth (1Cor 1-2), nor through the blood or the will, but by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit (John 3.1-8). All we have apart from our heavenly Father is a meaningless void, an empty vacuum…all out emptiness.
For what is darkness, but the absence of God’s light; what is falsehood, but the absence of God’s truth; what is injustice, but the absence of God’s justice; what is unrighteousness (sin/evil), but the absence of God’s righteousness (goodness); what is hatred, but the absence of God’s love; what is unforgiveness and bitterness, but the absence of God’s mercy and kindness; what is unholy, but the absence of God’s holiness, etc.?
Truly, what do you get if you gain the whole world, but do not have Christ Jesus? You lose it all:
- “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul [eternally]? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matt 16.26; ESV).
Hell, defined as eternal death and not just the grave (Sheol), is the home of the “havenots.” These who thought they had it all while they were alive, but when that reality is brought to bear…it is then they know they had (have) nothing. A sobering thought that we ought to be reminded of, even though we will go to great lengths to avoid the sting. My hope is that you’d rather be stung now and do your crying here, than arrogantly assume that you will have anything if you don’t have Jesus as your all in all (John 15.5).
1 All Scripture unless otherwise noted shall be of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).
2 The usage of the word “economy” in this post is in the sense of individual/household management of affairs—i.e. life choices and motivations. See Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Def. 1.
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