What Do Rich People Buy?

Houston Texans v San Francisco 49ersJ.J. Watt is the defensive end for the Houston Texans football team who recently signed a six-year, $100-million dollar contract, making him the highest-paid defensive player in history. When a reporter asked him what he did after he signed the huge contract, Watt responded by telling a funny story:

“I googled ‘What do rich people buy?’ ’cause I don’t feel like a rich person and I don’t really try to act like a rich person. So I don’t know what they buy, and I really didn’t like the stuff I saw. So I think I’m gonna stick to my humble lifestyle and just keep working out.”

Watt evidently refrained from buying expensive items mainly because he didn’t like them, and not because he had a higher purpose in mind for his newfound wealth. Nevertheless, his reluctance to spend loosely and his commitment to hard work illustrates several lessons that also are available in Scripture:

  • True value is not determined by how much people are willing to pay for something. God determines what is valuable in the Universe He created, as the prophet Micah taught: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
  • Satisfaction in life is not contingent on how much money one makes. We do not need to be rich in order to be happy. Contentment is the product of a right relationship with Christ, as Paul taught: “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
  • A wise person does not recklessly spend money he makes, but rather puts it to good use. Giving to the Lord is a much better investment than reckless spending. The return for laying up treasures in heaven is tremendous, as Jesus taught: “[G]ive, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
  • Wealth has a tendency to make us lazy and to forget what is important. Football players whose contracts guarantee them fabulous wealth whether they perform on the field or not are tempted to less-than-inspired effort. Amos warned those Israelites who were secure in their wealth but unfaithful:

“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!” (Amos 6:4-6).

We usually look to athletes for excellence in sports and not for spiritual insights, but every now and then we catch a glimpse of profundity even from them.

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- 2017