A number of Pam and my friends have worked their tails off setting aside money and investments for retirement and security to the detriment of their spiritual life. Often, the result of their journey is that they found themselves incompatible with their spouse who had developed different dreams. Frequently, they are no longer living with their original spouse which then creates the complication of seamlessly integrating an additional spouse and his/her kids and even step grandchildren. My observations are that folks who have treasured the world of things and prestige often end up disappointed living life out superficially. Many have climbed the wrong ladder to success.
Jesus ran into a prominent, wealthy businessman who had discovered that he had climbed the wrong ladder to success. Mark 10:17-22 tells the story, 17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’” 20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” 21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad because he had great wealth. This well respected, religious man came to Jesus inquiring sincerely if the ladder he was climbing ensured his inheritance of eternal life. Jesus listed a number of commandments that were important of which this rich man assured Christ that he had followed. Here’s the problem. Jesus was able to penetrate deeply inside this man’s mind “discerning the thoughts and intents of his heart.” He saw that this man’s heart worshipped at the altar of his wealth and prestige. When lovingly challenged, this man treasured his things and “went away sadly.” He had spent his life working very hard climbing the wrong ladder.
Paul is crystal clear in 1 Timothy 6, 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
Please make sure that you are not climbing the wrong ladder! It’s not too late to get refocused.