The Limitations of Earthly Wealth

The Limitations of Earthly Wealth

We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.
—Ecclesiastes 5:15 (NLT)

The Bible does not condemn money, but the Bible does condemn the love of money. So in Matthew 6, Jesus talked about avoiding the love of money. He made a stark contrast between two different depositories, or treasuries, where we can store up our wealth: earth and heaven. Look at verse 19: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”

Jesus was talking about the dangers of making earthly possessions your focus. All kinds of bad things can happen to the possessions or money you store up here on earth. Have you ever had a piece of clothing eaten by a moth? I certainly have. It does not matter whether you wear Gucci or Goodwill—a moth can destroy those outfits you have invested in. And if moths do not get your possessions, rust can destroy them. Rust is no respecter of objects. It does not matter whether you drive a Lamborghini or a Honda—your car can be corroded by rust. And even if moths and rust do not destroy your possessions, they can be stolen away by thieves.

Now, you may think: I am not going to make the mistake of leaving my money and possessions so vulnerable. I am going to invest my money in the stock market, or I will just deposit all my money in the bank—surely it is safe there. Well, it may be safe, but it is still going to be taken from you. When? At your death. Death is when our material possessions are separated from us. The Greek word for death, thanatos, means “separation.” Death is the separation of your body from your spirit as well as the separation of you from all your material goods. Solomon talked about that separation in Ecclesiastes 5:15: “We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us” (NLT).

The story is told that when John D. Rockefeller died, somebody asked his aide how much the old man left behind. The aide replied, “He left it all behind.” The truth is, you and I are going to leave it all behind. No matter how much wealth you accumulate or how well you secure it, you cannot take your money or possessions with you. That is the limitation of wealth you store up here on earth—at some point, it is going to be separated from you, whether by moths, rust, thieves, or ultimately, death.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk about Your Money” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.

John D. Rockefeller story as told in R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chapell, To Guard the Deposit: 1–2 Timothy and Titus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 158.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.