Have you been watching the markets?

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The stock market has always fascinated me.  It can jump up and down based on confidence or uncertainty.  I had an economics teacher in high school whom I first heard say, “The market doesn’t do well with uncertainty.”

My goodness, was he right!

I’m no economics expert, but the stock market is a collection of markets and forums where pieces of a company’s ownership (called “shares”) are offered by the companies themselves, bought by others, and sold by others.

This exchange or offering (or pulling the shares back), buying, and selling makes the value of a company go up and down.  As all of the value of these companies’ stocks are considered together (and there are a few groups of them people mostly pay attention to), it produces an index, or number.  As that number goes up and down, we say the stock market is up or down.  Again, I’m no expert.

But I do know that most Americans’ retirement is tied up in the stock market.  The value of companies and their CEOs is tied up in the stock market.  And the relative current health of the American economy is partially (or largely, depending on who you ask) based on the stock market.

And when the stock market starts falling, as we have seen it do in the past month, chaos ensues.  People start worrying.  Their nest egg starts getting affected.  Fear can set in if it starts going too low.

King Solomon of Israel didn’t have a “stock market” to deal with, but as a king, he understood how the value of a nation’s wealth made an impact on a global scale. 

Yet, he stated in Proverbs 15:15

 Better a little with the fear of the LORD
than great wealth with turmoil.  

Proverbs 15:16
New International Version

When we face times of financial scarcity, this almost feels like a slap in the face.  But the fact that it feels like a slap in the face is Solomon’s point: great wealth comes with its own set of problems.

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You might not consider yourself wealthy, but if you are living in the United States (as most of my readers do), you are already one of the wealthiest people in the world.  I’m not saying you’re a billionaire; I’m saying compared to the rest of humanity on this planet, an American is very wealthy. 

With that wealth comes the fluidity of markets, the dollar, income, expenses, interest rates, waste, and debt.  The very fact that we even think this way shows how wealthy we are!

I’m not at all saying wealth is immoral.  But I am saying we understand King Solomon’s point in Proverbs 15:16 more than we think we do at first glance.

Compared to all of the wealth of America and all the wealth of King Solomon, Scripture teaches us it’s better to be closer to the Lord than far from Him but have more possessions. 

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Is that how you feel?

Have you learned the value of Jesus in your life?  Are you allowing Him to teach you patience right now?  Are you allowing Him to cultivate self-discipline, hope, and trust right now? Are you spending time with Him to learn any of this?

It’s better to have less possessions, but gain the life Jesus offers us than be wealthy with all its problems and be a stranger to the Lord and the peace He offers.