Psalm 52

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man? Why do you boast all day long, you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God? Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit. You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.

You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue! Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.

The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at him, saying, “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!”

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.

I remember watching as a popular movie star bragged in front of a national TV audience that she had been paid $20 million for one week’s work as the voice of a cartoon character. She was a guest on a talk show whose hostess is reportedly worth several billion dollars and whose personal income approaches $1 million per working day!

I couldn’t help thinking that either one of those women could support our ministry and many others like it for the rest of their lives with out even noticing. I don’t know what they do with their money; perhaps they’re heavily involved in the Lord’s work, using their considerable wealth to further His Kingdom. If so, they’ll reap eternal rewards that will put their current fortunes to shame.

But if not, all the money they can gather up will fall woefully short of the price required for their lives. If they’ve rejected the Lord’s free offer of salvation, they’ll find themselves unable to pay the price required to purchase it on their own, no matter how much wealth they acquire.

I believe it was Karl Marx who said, “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” He believed that religion was invented by the wealthy to help keep the poor in their place. The idea was that they would tolerate their lives of deprivation and willingly spend their energies enriching others as long as they believed that they would be made rich themselves in another life.

We know better. We know that in this life God, the giver of every good and perfect gift, will attend to our needs and bless us as He sees fit, if only we’ll let him. And then, as a reward for our faith, He’ll grant us eternal blessings beyond comprehension in the next one. He will do this irrespective of our merit. In fact Karl Marx could have received all these blessings himself, had he only asked.

I’ll admit to being jealous upon hearing that someone who added no value at all to the quality of life on earth should be compensated so outrageously, while it seems that many who labor diligently for the Lord barely survive. But then I realized that I was looking at things through a worldly perspective. I have everything I need and the Lord has promised that I always will. If someone gave me $20 million for a week’s work, I’d give the tithe and a lot more to the Lord, but then I’d probably spend the rest on things that would ultimately distract me from ministry, not help me stay focused.  It’s what the Lord meant when He said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt 6:24)

In Psalm 37 the Lord compared successful but evil people to the grass that soon withers away into nothing. In this one the faithful are compared to an olive tree. Olive trees are almost impossible to kill. You can cut them down, burn their wood, and dig up the trunks, but soon a little shoot will come out of the ground and the tree is off and growing again. It’s believed that some of the olive trees present in the Garden of Gethsemane today witnessed the arrest and capture of Jesus.

Given the choice of being a blade of grass that withers and dies, or an olive tree that lives forever I’ll choose the olive tree, especially since I know where I’ll be living.