When our society speaks of success and the “good life”, it most often defines them in terms of what we have and where we are. These concepts rarely point to what we are.
So it is important for us to remain youthful, trim, and well-groomed. These are the keys to a pleasure-seeking lifestyle. Girls must be beautiful and desirable, guys must be athletic and well-heeled to catch them. Or, maybe, even the other way around these days.
Then there is the compulsion to produce, to achieve, and to get results. So the pressure is on to steal an account or to do something unethical to make a profit, lies are told, figures are juggled, friends are betrayed.
Finally, of course, there is the real yardstick of “the good life.” Money. Or at least, the appearance of money. Big house. Fancy car. Expensive clothes. Membership in the right clubs. Vacations to the chic spots. There was a frighteningly realistic speech in the 1987 movie “Wall Street” in which Michael Douglas, playing the dollar-thirsty takeover specialist Gordon Gekko, says, “Greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.”
Please, do not misinterpret the biblical message about youth, health, popularity and money! Not one of them is judged. Not a single one in itself is evil. But to define human worth in terms of any or all of them is evil.
To live one’s life in pursuit of one or more of these things to the neglect of God, relationships, family, or integrity is wrong. To look down on, mistreat, or shut your compassion from the people who are at the bottom of the “ladder of success” (as the unspiritual person sees this) is to compromise your own humanity.
Jesus met a man once who had all the things most people envy. He was young, popular, and rich. And when that man asked the Lord about eternal life, Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor (Luke 18:18-25). Talk about getting a shock! And when the man decided his bank accounts and holdings meant more to him then Christ, his fate was sealed.
And so is ours if anything means more to us than Him. — Rubel Shelly