top of page
Search

The Good Life?

James, a tech industry titan, rose from savvy entrepreneur to CEO of a leading Silicon Valley company. His life was the epitome of success: a mansion in a gated community, luxury cars, and a yacht. His home had immaculate lawns, reflecting his polished public image. By his side was Marissa, his stunning second wife, whose charm complemented his ambition. Their social calendar was packed with high-profile events. His passions included golfing, boating, and investing.


Despite his success, James appeared humble and approachable, known for his listening skills and eye contact. He and Marissa attended church to maintain appearances rather than out of spiritual conviction. Financially, James was secure with a diverse portfolio, viewing his wealth as a hedge against uncertainty.


One summer day, during a lavish get-together, James's seemingly perfect life shattered. In front of friends and colleagues alike, James collapsed suddenly, clutching his chest, and losing consciousness almost instantly. When he awoke, he found himself not in a hospital but in a dark, fiery landscape resembling hell, with confusion and horror marking his face as he grappled with his new, grim reality.


Wealth in and of itself is not evil (nor is being wealthy for that matter), it is the "love of money" that is the root of all manners of evil (1 Tim 6:10). The danger of material wealth is that it is a trap that gives a false sense of security. The wealthier a person becomes, the more entangled in the world they become. The love of money, and the things that come with it, empower the individual in this life.


Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24


Thus, the essence of a well-lived life does not consist of our physical condition but of our spiritual. Money, wealth, fame, power, prestige, etc. are fleeting things that are easily abused, corrupted, or stolen. Jesus had a lot to say about money, wealth, fame, and power to which He warned us not to get taken in by the trap that abundant material wealth presents. Note this from His Sermon on the Mount. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." Matthew 6:19-20. Jesus warned again about this because of how enticing it would be for men to either become possessed by trying to obtain great wealth or become spiritually deadened by it once achieving a certain level of success.


Then He spoke a parable to them, saying:


“The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’


But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’


“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13-21


*****


Jim, a blue-collar worker from rural Pennsylvania, tried to lead a decent life as a construction foreman in the small town where he lived. Having worked his way up the ranks, he became a respected leader amongst his subordinates, peers, and leadership. He had a modest home, a reliable pickup truck, and a fishing boat he cherished. His yard, though simple, was well-kept, reflecting a microcosm of the integrity by which he kept his life ordered. By his side was his loving wife of 18 years, Mary, whose warmth balanced Jim's hardworking nature. Their family life was filled with kids' activities, weekend barbecues, and community gatherings.


Jim was known for his genuine smile and a firm handshake. He and Mary were fifth-generation Baptists, who attended church now more out sense of community rather than any deep spiritual necessity. Financially, Jim was middle class with steady, modest savings and careful budgeting in hopes of creating a stable future. His investments were minuscule in comparison to James's. Still, they included a small work pension and some rental properties he inherited, making him feel prepared more than most for anything that may arise. Jim's true love seemed to revolve around fishing, football, and barbecuing, often engaging in lively debates with friends over copious amounts of cold beer.


One fall day, while hosting a Sunday afternoon football game, Jim's life took a sudden and tragic turn. While running a quick errand to the local gas station to grab some ice and drinks for his guests, he felt a sharp pain in his chest causing him to veer his truck off the road and into a large oak tree on the opposite side of the road. Strapped into his seat yet staring at the oak tree up close, the pain in his chest returned causing his world to fade into black. Jim awoke not in a hospital, but in a dark, fiery landscape resembling hell. Confused and horrified, he struggled to comprehend his new, grim reality.



The unexpected transition from mortal life on earth to our eternal destinations does not only visit the rich or poor but all mankind. Anyone who is not born again (John 3:3), or provided mercy by a sovereign God (Mark 10:14) will spend eternity separated from their Creator. The sudden departure all men face serves as a reminder that despite our best efforts (i.e., a good work ethic and moral character, religiosity, charity, etc.) is not enough to render the regeneration of spiritual rebirth.


There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.


“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you, there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’


“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ” Luke 16:19-31


According to Scripture, a man's life is but a vapor. For all that we want to be, or do, is no more enduring than a blade of grass. (Psalm 103:15, James 4:14) While Jim's life was not inherently evil, nor his desires wicked, his mind was still centered on earthly things. His faith was skin deep, and his spiritual awareness equally shallow, his service at church was not out of any sincere desire to please God, but to keep appearances. Note in the aforementioned passage, that the 'rich man' (whom Jewish tradition identifies as 'Dives') was not described as being wicked or evil for enjoying the good things in life, only that we see he was indifferent to the things of God.


*****


Jimmy had worked in the factory most of his adult life. Having returned from the war when he was younger, he married his high school sweetheart, bought a small home, and tried to lead a humble yet fulfilling life. Despite his meager income, Jimmy always kept the lights on and food on the table. He managed to keep his old car running with a mixture of love and a lot of sweat equity. His wife, Linda, was his rock, providing love and support and the mother figure who made their house a home. Their life was centered around their children, their church, and the close-knit community.


Although Jimmy wasn't deeply religious externally, he loved his faith. He knew he wasn't perfect, and had made plenty of mistakes, so he didn't serve out of any sense of obligation or attempts to right his wrongs, rather, he found his joy in Jesus and his finished work on the cross. For Jimmy, church wasn't a thing he did, but who he was. He attended weekly, not out of any sense of denominational loyalty or tradition, but did not want to forsake the assembling of the saints so much the more as he saw that day approaching.


With his warm smile and kind heart, Jimmy was beloved by neighbors and coworkers alike. When his wife Linda passed due to cancer, he received an outpouring from his church, his work, and his community. But all the condolences and food trains couldn't take away the emptiness he now had to live with. He did his best to keep his family together even though financially, things were unraveling. Thankfully, Jimmy had come to value family and faith over material wealth, which allowed for the lean years which followed, to be endured with gladness rather than bitterness.


With his children now grown and out of the house, Jimmy liked to sit on his front porch in the evenings thinking about his wife, his children, and the life they built together. One Sunday afternoon, Jimmy's life took a sudden and unexpected turn. He felt a sharp pain in his chest and collapsed backward into his chair clutching his chest while his world faded.


But what followed the fading was not darkness, but rather, an intense and beautiful light pervading Jimmy's awareness. He awoke in a radiant, vibrant landscape to which he was struggling to grasp its enormity and beauty. Realizing his pain was no more, and given the sudden thrust into the realm eternal, he realized he was in heaven. Then he saw her. Linda, now as young and vibrant as the day they first met, began approaching him from a distance. Overwhelmed with joy and peace, he embraced her and they began this new journey into his new, eternal reality.



Conclusion


While the status of wealth is no indicator of true spiritual regeneration, I tried simply to encapsulate the three stages of man throughout the ages, regardless of who they are or where they are from, in this brief article. First, there are those who have wealth. Second, there are those who are the working middle class. Lastly, there are those who are poor.


For James, spirituality was represented in his social attendance at his local 'dead' church. He did not care for the things of God but attended simply to keep up his pretenses. For Jim, church attendance was superficial at best and was more out of an obligated sense of tradition rather than sincerity. His relationships, while possibly more deeply real than James's, were also transactional, and his pursuits, equally materialistic. They both wanted the good life. However, as alive as these men appeared to all who knew them, they were dead men walking long before the Lord took them. For Jimmy, who was poor in possessions, but rich in God, his happiness did not center on what he owned, but on his relationships with his family, co-workers, and most importantly, with God.


The truth is, we are all dead men walking until the Lord revives us in spiritual rebirth (John 3:5, Col 2:13) when we place our faith in the finished work of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. It is at that moment when we realize we cannot earn our way to heaven that the spiritual transformation begins. When we realize we cannot pay for our own sins, we acknowledge our position that we are not God, but Jesus is, can that regeneration begin. We cannot conquer sin and death, because we are sinners and we are subject to the wages of those sins, which is eternal death and separation from our Creator. But Jesus never sinned and, thus, was not subject to its wages.


When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:13-15


By placing our faith in His finished work and the innocent blood that was shed on that old wooden cross, even when we were at enmity against Him, we are no longer viewed by God as fallen creatures destined for damnation, but fallen creatures covered in the perfect blood of His Son. It is here that we trade our fallen natures for His perfect righteousness and become new creations (2 Cor 5:17-21). We are made acceptable in the sight of God. Thus, when we grasp the enormity of what is at stake, we can fully embrace the truth in what Jesus says here.


For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

Mark 8:36







2,927 views22 comments

Recent Posts

See All

In That Day

The day of the Lord, a pivotal concept in the Bible, signifies a time of divine judgment or visitation from the Lord. It is a period when God confronts wicked men directly and decisively, often with f

22 Comments

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

"Watch ye there fore, and pray always. that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man"

When I think I have it all together, in good standing with God, I do pray this prayer, to build confidence in my salvation. I have always wondered if that was weakness.

Like

These essays are presented in a wonderful and heartfelt manner. The messages conveyed need no flashy introductions to wade thru to get to the Word. Thank you so much!

Like

Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

God led me to start my day with this beautiful piece of writing. Lots of tears with this one. I just love how God knows before you even set your hand to paper who needs to read this!! God bless your obedience, Pete.

Like

Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great word Pete! Praying daily for you and your family. Abundant grace! Wisdom! Comfort and peace! God is so faithful!

Like

Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Another powerful, well-written piece, Pete. Thank you for walking out your faith and sharing it so well.

Like
bottom of page