What Money Can't Buy

David calls on everyone to listen to his teaching that it will be beneficial to both rich and poor, that each will have something to learn. Then he goes ahead to list the limits of money.
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I'd like to talk about another aspect of the money issue, aside from the subject of giving. In Psalm 49 David gives good financial advice to those who are envying the wealth of their brethren. In this passage he reminds them of the things that money cannot do or buy, and this is what I want us to focus on this morning.

1Hear this, all peoples;
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
2Both low and high,
Rich and poor together.
3My mouth will speak wisdom,
And the meditation of my heart will be understanding.
4I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will express my riddle on the harp.

In verses 1 to 4 David calls on everyone to listen to his teaching that it will be beneficial to both rich and poor, that each will have something to learn. Then he goes ahead to list the limits of money.

1. Money Cannot Buy Your Soul

5Why should I fear in days of adversity,
When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me,
6Even those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the abundance of their riches?
7No man can by any means redeem his brother
Or give to God a ransom for him—
For the redemption of his soul is costly,
And he should cease trying forever—
9That he should live on eternally,
That he should not undergo decay.

Money can do a lot of things but it has no power in the spiritual realm. Wealth is no advantage in going to heaven. David gives the reason for this---there is not enough money to equal the value of a human soul. Souls cannot be exchanged for money, good work, prayer, piety etc.

A soul is made in the image of God and so it needs something of equal and like value to purchase it or to exchange for it. This is why Jesus offered His perfect life for our souls His perfect Godly soul exchanged for our souls. (Soul for Soul, Spirit for Spirit).

2. Money Doesn't Buy Time

10For he sees that even wise men die;
The stupid and the senseless alike perish
And leave their wealth to others.
11Their inner thought is that their houses are forever
And their dwelling places to all generations;
They have called their lands after their own names.
12But man in his pomp will not endure;
He is like the beasts that perish.
13This is the way of those who are foolish,
And of those after them who approve their words. Selah.
14As sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
Death shall be their shepherd;
And the upright shall rule over them in the morning,
And their form shall be for Sheol to consume
So that they have no habitation.

Money buys a "good time" but it doesn't buy time --- and there is a difference. David says that wealthy people think that their wealth can somehow extend their time:

  • They think they will live on through their possessions.
  • They build monuments to themselves thinking that their presence through these in the eyes of future generations will somehow equal some type of existence for themselves.
  • They think they can buy time through technology. (e.g. Walt Disney and Cryogenics). He didn't realize that you die once then comes the Judgment - Hebrews 9:27.

David says that the wealthy die and remain dead and separate from the loving like everyone else. To think money buys time is foolish and to believe so only reveals another thing that money doesn't buy and that is wisdom.

3. Money Doesn't Buy Power Over Death

16Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
17For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
His glory will not descend after him.
18Though while he lives he congratulates himself—
And though men praise you when you do well for yourself—
19He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They will never see the light.
20Man in his pomp, yet without understanding,
Is like the beasts that perish.

Not only is money useless in trying to purchase more time, it is useless to you when, or after you die. There may be a difference in the quality of life between the rich and the poor-- but there is no difference in the quality of their death. At death all are stripped of their wealth.

Regardless of what they say about you when you die, it won't matter to you anymore. When I do a funeral, after it's over everyone goes to eat or about their business --except the deceased, they are beyond caring anymore. And so David calls out to those who are tempted or discouraged by the wealth of others in comparison to their own poverty and he reminds them that wealth has some pretty restrictive limits.

Money is good and has power but not enough to do the things that are truly important to all men --- these things are attainable by all, rich and poor --- but not by wealth.

What Money Can Buy

So we don't get wrong idea, I'd like to mention some of the things that money can buy, and with a good conscience. Paul says that it's the love of money that is the root of all evil - 1Tim.6:10 Money all by itself is neutral and can be used for good things.

1. Money Can Buy Comfort, Freedom, Opportunity.

It's no secret that one of the basic uses of money is to provide opportunities for education, self-expression, travel and freedom from the worry over paying the bills. This is usually the level that most of us are striving for in our careers and handling of money.

This is a good and natural use of money so long as we know when enough is enough and not get caught in the sin of greed where we never have enough and we spend our lives always building bigger and bigger barns or saving just a little more just in case. Just another dollar.

2. Money Can Be Used To Better The World

Many people who have avoided the trap of greed have discovered that a wonderful way to us e money is to make improvements in the world. Some wealthy people realize there's so much you can eat and drink; so many places to go; just so much pleasure that comes from making money --- begin to use their wealth to make this world a better place to live in. For example:

  • Ted Turner (Turner Broadcasting, CNN etc. Millionaire) hard nosed business man, yet, loses money every year on Goodwill Games (handicapped athletes) but gains great satisfaction from this good work.
  • Bill Gates (Microsoft Chairman) says he plans to give away most of his fortune.

There are many examples great and small of people who give their time, money and skills to help, building, watching, supporting different causes that will leave this world a better place than when they entered it. They've learned a use of wealth that brings great satisfaction and that has nothing to do with profit, money or advantage.

3. Money Can Be Used To Buy Treasure In Heaven

This may sound like the use I've just mentioned but it's not. Jesus taught that a man is lost if, "..(he) lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God". (Luke 12:21)

Gaining wealth for oneself is alright but it has no effect on our soul. Using wealth for other is good in that it purchases for us the satisfaction that naturally comes from doing well. The satisfaction is the full reward. In Matthew 19:21 Jesus says to the rich young ruler:

"If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me."

You see the use of money for others without reference to Christ gains no advantage for the soul. Giving his money to the poor made him complete. In other words it demonstrated that he understood the best and most mature use or wealth.

This action coupled with faith in Christ however, opened for him the benefits of a heavenly reward. In another passage Jesus says that if even a cup of water is given in His name, the giver will not lose he reward - Mark 9:41.

The point here is that what transforms our giving into spiritual treasure is it's relation to Christ. We can give away a treasure for a good cause but unless we give it in the name of Jesus it will not create for us treasure in heaven.


We spend most of our waking hours trying to make money, using money or worrying about money. Our lesson today reminds us of a few things about money.

1. There are important things money can't do.

  • It can't lengthen one's life by a second
  • It can't make one's life more valuable
  • It can't preserve one's life form death

These are the traps and lies that people who seek wealth are drawn to and eventually ruined by.

2. What you do with your money is a reflection of what you do with your life.

You can't use fake religion or church attendance as a cover for greed, selfishness, or poor stewardship of your money. At judgment God will look more closely at your checkbook than your attendance card.

3. The Cross of Christ buys us what we really need.

Money can't buy time, a soul or reprieve from death (all things we desperately need) but the blood of Christ does! The sacrifice of Jesus buys for me: forgiveness for my sins, freedom from the second death and eternal life with God.

The beauty of all this is that it is available to everyone regardless of their wealth because it is received by faith expressed in repentance and baptism. Let's remember then to buy the right things with our money and use it the way God intends. And regardless of how much or little money we do have, let's also realize that God's offer of the things money can't buy are available to everyone here today who are ready to receive them through faith.

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