Today's devotion from Psalms 48 & 49.
Jealousy is a dangerous weapon. What makes it even worse, is that no demographic is exempt from feeling the heat of the covetous fire. Infants jealously take toys from those around them. Grown adults look longingly on power, position, or possession. Teenagers and adolescents struggle with perceived inequity concerning the various aspects of their growing awareness. The stranglehold of jealousy is not limited by race, color, or language.
It is not unknown amongst believers either.
Christians often look exactly like the world in their pursuits of cars and houses. Parents sometimes study and compare the clothes of children in the church nursery to see how they stack up. Even in the polity of the church, there are power plays in which one person or group seeks to subvert the power or position of another. Pastors routinely compare congregations and budgets.
What makes it worse is when the disparity seems "unfair." Why would God not bless His faithful with more and better than those of the world? This is the subject of the 49th Psalm. The author tries to remind us of the fact that worldly prosperity and eternal significance aren't directly associated. Having plenty in the world really doesn't equate to eternal wellbeing.
The rich person cannot ransom his own life. In the end, the rich and the poor both exit this temporal life and the amount of wealth will be inconsequential. The rich take exactly the same as the poor into eternity. However, there is something that is immeasurably important that we will take with us. He writes, "But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me." (Psalm 49:15, ESV)
For all the striving and conniving we do in this world, there is no way to ransom ourselves from the eternal fate that awaits us. Only God can afford that price. With this in mind, we shouldn't be jealous of those that have much. After all, the Scriptures tell us that it incredibly difficult for one who has the luxury of trusting in money to be able trust in the Lord. If anything, perhaps we should be moved with pity for those with such obstacles as wealth and possession.
Or, maybe we should remember exactly how blessed many of us truly are in our modern context? Maybe the psalmists words should awaken us with an ominous warning to not rely on ourselves, but to cast ourselves on His mercy?