Sermons

Summary: The prospect of affluence

Abraham Lincoln once stated: “The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.”

The prospect of affluence in our modern-day society is probably appealing to many, especially if there is little that has to be done to reap the harvest. For some, it persists as a predominant issue in their lives and becomes a personal goal to strive for. If you are fortunate enough to win, the promises publicised by gambling houses and other online enterprises of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, often used to entice unsuspecting victims into their lair, becomes a reality. Sadly, however, an addiction to gambling can be considered a definite curse which sometimes results in suicide from the devastation that is left in its wake.

Aesop wrote the fable "The wolf in sheep's clothing" centuries ago which has been referred to often ever since. It is a stark warning to us all not to be taken in by people who pretend to be what they are not. False faces can conceal an inner intent of malice, greed and harm. Matthew 7:15 states: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

It is a regrettable fact of life that people are vulnerable to clever sharks posing as representatives of reputable companies and personal friends who want to help you obtain the best that life can give, but inwardly are only concerned about themselves and what rewards they can achieve from their prey. Many elderly people have been subjected to these rogues and have often lost much of the prized possessions they have managed to acquire throughout their lives, including their homes and valuable savings. Romans 16:17-18 warns us: “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

There was once a man in his thirties with a beautiful wife and a young son who lived and worked in London. Because of the economic recession, he was unexpectedly made redundant by his company. As he had not been employed that long by the corporation, his redundancy settlement did not amount to a great fortune.

He had recently purchased a new and expensive house in a select area of natural beauty and had a large mortgage repayment to find each month, amongst many other bills. This commitment was causing him considerable concern and distress. He had to achieve a reasonable income if he was to sustain any quality of life. The government unemployment grant paid for the essentials, but this left him short of money for any additional pleasures. He was not content with the fact that with necessary due care, he would still be able to live a reasonable lifestyle until such time that he was fortunate enough to procure further employment. He needed the best that life could offer and he needed it now. He had always known what he wanted from life and nothing was going to deter him from accomplishing it.

One day he was speaking to a friend in the local pub, who suggested that it may be worth his while to try his fortune at the local casino. He was advised that several people had succeeded in striking it rich there which had significantly enhanced their lives. He may, with luck, be able to achieve the same. He was also informed that the casino often offered a credit facility if he was short of funds. He noted the advice and applied for membership at the casino. His application was accepted and on his initial visit, he set aside a modest £50 limit in the hope of increasing his wealth at the tables. His first night was extremely successful and he managed to increase his initial stake to £570. He went home extremely contented and happy and informed his wife of his success. However, being a sensible person, she had significant doubts that this was the correct course of action for him to take.

She tried to appeal to his better nature by informing him that this kind of success was usually short-lived and the casino would soon be reaping the benefits of his money if he continued in this vein. He, of course, being relatively young and headstrong, would not listen to her reasoning and felt that she was trying to impede an easy way to make money for a more comfortable life. As a result, the spasmodic visits turned into nightly ones and the modest stake disappeared completely. The redundancy payment soon diminished and they were reduced to the breadline. Her words and thinking had soon become reality and it wasn't long before he found himself in considerable debt to the casino owner. He applied and was accepted for a credit account which allowed him further significant funds to resort to if he wished to use the facility. Shortly afterwards he started to avail himself of the guaranteed credit limit which made matters considerably worse for him as he quickly increased his debt to several thousand pounds.

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