Gold Enough to Hurt

Ecclesiastes 5:13-15

Here’s a man with more money than Davey Crockett, as Forrest Gump put it. His money could, apparently, buy nearly anything, at least if the allegations against him are true.

Jeffrey Epstein, recently arrested for trafficking underage girls, has definitely bought his own private island and a swanky jet aircraft. He stands accused of taking girls as young as fourteen in that airplane to that island and paying them a pittance to do as he would with them.

When he was prosecuted a decade or so back, Epstein was found guilty for largely the same offense and sentenced to less than a person might get for burglary. It seems that Mr. Epstein’s money could not only buy him all the things mentioned above but perverted justice as well.

Surely this wasn’t what Solomon had in mind when he spoke of a sickening tragedy:

There is a sickening tragedy I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm. That wealth was lost in a bad venture, so when he fathered a son, he was empty-handed. As he came from his mother’s womb, so he will go again, naked as he came; he will take nothing for his efforts that he can carry in his hands.

Ecclesiastes 5:13-15

What If Accounting

Yesterday, I quoted from the song “Satisfied Mind.” Clearly, if the allegations are true, Jeffrey Epstein has not been able to purchase such satisfaction. In fact, his behavior evokes that of King David as he peered across the city and saw Bathsheba bathing. “I have all this, but I simply must have that. And I have the means to take it.”

Perverts of all sorts must look at the ultra-rich and think, “I could get away with so much if I were that person.” Epstein seems to prove this theory. Even today, as he has been arrested and charged, there’s no guarantee that his money, his notoriety, and his connections won’t get him out of the matter. His previous “slap on the wrist” outcome would seem to suggest that he will not feel the full weight of the law come down on him.

Look at film director Roman Polanski, a fugitive since 1978 after fleeing the country in the wake of his guilty plea for statutory rape. I’m not sure if it was Polanski’s wealth or his reputation as an artist that has allowed him to not only escape justice but to be rewarded with a Best Picture Oscar while on the lam.

But what if these guys do manage to use their considerable resources to cheat or at least minimize justice? Have they won? Of course they haven’t. I’m guessing that, at the last judgment, as many who have done horrible things and then repented are ushered into Christ’s presence, those who used their wealth to skate unrepentant like this will be herded off with the goats. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

Getting in Tune

I don’t have Jeffrey Epstein’s kind of money and neither do you. Instead, I have a decent sum in the bank. The bills are paid and tomorrow seems relatively secure. Honestly, that’s enough money for me to get myself into trouble, enough for me to keep to my own harm.

As infuriating and sickening as a news story like Epstein’s might be, it’s not our concern. Our concern is to hold whatever we have loosely enough that it does not cause us trouble.

It’s hard for the rich–even just the middle America type of rich–to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but we can do it even as we leave a legacy, both material and spiritual, to our children.