My good friend, Ken Joines of Memphis, TN, reminded me of a statement Jesus made, “…a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). Ken observed that we have not fully bought into that truth yet. We have problems! Big ones!! There are economic problems; social, educational, domestic, and moral problems. Yet, there is one main problem that underlies all the others.
Today poor people in American enjoy things that were far beyond the reach of even kings only a few generations ago. We have radios, TVs, cell phones, and computers. We produce far more grain than we eat or sell. We’re able to produce more of nearly everything than we can use. Everything, that is, except human servants. We need more doctors, nurses, and teachers than the schools can turn out. Is there something amiss in a nation that can produce more “things” than we can use or sell and yet fail to produce even the minimum requirements in human servants? Most of us drive nicer cars, live in better houses, and wear nicer clothes than our grandparents did. But the nagging question is: Am I a better person than my grandparents were? The fact of the matter is that you cannot measure spiritual and moral progress by the fine houses in which we live or the number of possessions we have obtained.
A disturbing contradiction is taking place. At a time when we are producing more of everything than we need, crime is higher, divorce is more prevalent, out-of-wedlock births are higher, and pornography and juvenile crimes are off the charts. One out of every thirty-one people is an alcoholic. Strangely, we shoot mad dogs but license the liquor dealer! We claim to be the most civilized nation on earth and yet more than 50 million children receive no kind of religious training. They are tossed on a stormy sea of moral relativism, unable to make simple choices between right and wrong.
What keeps a nation strong and secure? Well, if Congress could do it, ancient Tyre would be with us today. If political machinery could do it, Rome would not have fallen. If military power could do it, Germany would not have failed. Solomon said, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). Goodness has been and will continue to be our strength. America is on the verge of ceasing to be good and the responsibility to do something about it is ours, whether we like it or not. Each of us is a commanding officer in the war on crime and sin.
We’ve spent astronomical sums of money on science and technology. Yet, not one social or moral problem has ever been solved by them. We have assumed that if we just raise the standard of living we will improve the quality of people. Wrong! Our job is not just to teach a child how to walk, but where to walk. Merely making environmental improvements will not change us. When we teach our children to believe that we are just highly evolved animals, they will behave like animals. They will have no purpose or foundation in life. On the other hand, when we teach them that man was created by God and was made in His image, we provide them a sense of dignity and a moral foundation upon which to build a good life, not just make a good living.