“You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! I praise the Lord, because he guides me, and in the night my conscience warns me. I am always aware of the Lord’s presence; he is near, and nothing can shake me.”– Psalm 16:5-8 (GNT).
Through one show-stopping number after another, we watch P.T. Barnum go from a child living in poverty to a successful ringmaster of a circus. And along the way, the movie addresses several themes. But there’s one theme that really drives a lot of the story – the lure of wealth and success. One of the songs in the movie captures that period in his life: Towers of gold are still too little…These hands could hold the world but it’ll….Never be enough
And that’s the lure of wealth and success. It’s never enough. You want more. You want it all. Unfortunately, Barnum didn’t learn that until he had lost almost everything. He could have saved himself learning things the hard way if he consulted his Bible. The Bible has a lot to say about the lure of wealth and success. King Solomon had everything a human being could wish for, yet he gave a warning in Proverbs 23:4-5: “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.”
King Solomon was striving to experience “life to the full.” But he retained some wisdom and perspective in examining what he was investing his time and resources in. “Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11). His possessions and pleasure amounted to nothing, because they produced nothing of lasting value. Some look for success in status, power and position, rather than in wealth. The mother of James and John—two of Jesus’ disciples—came to Him with a request: “…In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking!’” (Matthew 20:21–22).
Jesus then shared a great key to true success, in contrast to pursuit of power and wealth; the desire to have it all.“…Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26–28). True success comes from a servant mentality.
- Why do we invest so much time and energy in pursuing wealth and power?
- What can we focus on for a Christ-centered life rather than things of this earth?