Tag Archives: wealth

A Tale of Two NFL Players

I occasionally check the USA Today’s sport’s page for amusement. Today I was struck by two contrasting stories regarding NFL players. The first is on Vince Young, the third player taken in the draft six years ago. He made millions of dollars as a pro-bowl quarterback with the Tennessee Titans but was cut by the Buffalo Bills last month. He is now out of job and seems to have squandered his wealth in either out-of-control spending or bad business partnerships. His story is not so unique among sport’s stars, though the speed of his decline is remarkable.

Even in pro sports, where tales of squandered wealth abound, Young’s plight is “pretty dramatic,” said Kenneth Shropshire, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business who has written and lectured extensively on the business of sports. “You’d think it would be hard to blow that much money,” Shropshire said.

Contrast Young with a story about NFL rookie running back, Alfred Morris. The article focused on his surprising success with the Washington Redskins and the fact that he still drives a 1991 Mazda, worth less than $1300.

“It has some sentimental value to it now,” Morris told The Redskins Blog. “It just keeps me grounded, where I came from and all the hard work for me to get to this point. So that’s what helps me.”

As I read the two articles, I was reminded of Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal;  but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19-21)

Lord Jesus, keep me grounded in you, so I can store my treasure in heaven.

Young and Rich

I am preparing to preach this Sunday on Jesus’ encounter with a rich man in Mark 10: 17-27. The man kneels at Jesus’ feet and asks what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responds, “Keep the commandments.”

The man responds, “I have kept them all from my youth.”

Jesus responds with words of love, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”

The man was shocked and went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

I think many of us are shocked by Jesus’ words as well. “You want me to do what? Sell everything?”

Barbara Taylor Brown in wrote in her book, The Preaching Life, about the two ways we mangle this story, “First by acting as if it were not about money, and second, by acting as if it were only about money.”

As far as Jesus is concerned, money is like nuclear power. It may be able to do a lot of good in the world, but only within strongly built and carefully regulated corridors. Most of us do not know how to handle it. We get contaminated by its power, and we contaminate others by wielding it carelessly ourselves – by wanting it too desperately or using it too manipulatively or believing in it too fiercely or defending it too cruelly.

But it is not a story that is only about money, because if it were we could all buy our way into heaven by cashing in our chips right now and you know that is not so. None of us earns eternal life, not matter what we do. We can keep the commandments until we are blue in the face; we can sign our paycheck over to Mother Teresa and rattle tin cups for our supper without earning a place at God’s banquet table. The kingdom of God is not for sale. The poor cannot buy it with their poverty any more than the rich can buy it with their riches. The kingdom of God is God’s consummate gift, to be given to whomever God pleases, for whatever reason please God. (The Preaching Life., p. 124)

Strong words for a great story. God’s grace is even greater than the world, and especially our love of riches.

Lord Jesus, set me free from the love of money and center my heart on you.