When I was in the UK last week, my family and I took an open-top bus tour of London. One of our guides was obsessed with telling us the value of properties. The week before, a parking space in London had sold for almost $350,000. A parking space!
He told us that many wealthy people bought multi-million dollar properties in Park Lane and Belgravia but never lived in them. They just wanted the prestigious address for the top of their notepaper. Then there were the luxury hotels with rows of Ferraris, Porsches, and Lamborghinis parked outside.
Finally we viewed the awesome landmark office buildings like the Gherkin, the Shard, and the Walkie-Talkie. My younger brother works in the Gherkin, so we were privileged to get a trip to the viewing gallery. We were quite the embarassing contrast to the power-dressing executives and supermodel secretaries. But we got a fantastic view of the modern financial district as well as the more ancient landmarks like the Tower of London.
I couldn’t help thinking of all that power and wealth when I was preparing a sermon on 1 Timothy 6 late last week. There, in verse 7, we come across a label that God puts on every car, every house, every office, every dollar, ever title, every position, everything: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
Nothing in, Nothing out
This is a label for all things, for all people, and for all times of life.
When you are having a baby: What does that baby come in with? Nothing. What shall it leave with? Nothing. As Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). We all enter and exit the same way. Nothing in, nothing out.
When you are deciding on a career: Don’t make money, salary, and benefits the only consideration. Put this label at the top of every job offer.
When you want something too much: When covetousness and greed get a grip of your heart, loosen its deadly hands by putting this label on the object of your desire. “Nothing in, Nothing out.”
When you get something you’ve always wanted: Don’t make an idol of it. Don’t get too attached to it. It is certain we shall carry nothing out.
When you lose something valuable: It may be a well-paying job, an inheritance, a house, or many of your possessions are destroyed in a fire or taken in a robbery. It just got taken from us a few years earlier than expected. Nothing in, nothing out.
When you are tempted to do wrong to get more money: Is it worth it? For something you are going to have to leave in a few short years anyway?
When you are deciding what to give to the Lord’s cause: Why not give more of it to the Lord before it’s taken by the Lord?
When you are complaining about how little you have: We all leave with the same amount. Nothing.
When you are planning your latter years: When thinking about retirement, pensions, trust funds, inheritances, etc. think on this verse. Yes, it’s appropriate to plan, but if you stick “Nothing in, nothing out” on everything, it will make your decisions much easier and much better.
When you are thinking of the judgment: We check everything at the grave. When the multi-billionaire John D. Rockefeller died, his assistant was asked, “How much did he leave?” “Everything,” he replied.
Why not print this verse and stick it on everything you have or want: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”
And while you’re at it, maybe put another label beside it: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”