Friday, September 29, 2006

The Words of Terrell Owens' Publicist

A Meditation

"Honor the Lord from your wealth..." (Proverbs 3:9a)
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth...But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." (Matthew 6:19, 20)
"Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death." (Proverbs 11:4)

Referring to Owens' 3-year deal with the Cowboys..."T.O. has 25 million reasons to stay alive" - Kim Etheredge, T.O.'s publicist

We've all certainly heard about the supposed suicide attempt (or accidental overdose) or Terrell Owens, and it is not my goal to talk about whether I think he did or did not try to kill himself. I will leave that for another day and someone else's blog. I was interested to hear T.O.'s publicist state that he had 25 million reasons to live, referring to the $25,000,000 contract he just signed in March. Kim Etheredge, who said she was the friend who called 9-1-1 when T.O. overdosed, summed up the existence of one of the NFL's most spotlighted receivers by saying that he has "25 million reasons to stay alive."

I didn't think much about the statement when it was first made, but the more I have pondered these words, the more grim the picture gets. Twenty-five million reasons to live, but not one good one. In fact, there is only one good one, and the apostle Paul hit it on the head in Philippians 1:21 when he wrote, "To live is Christ..." For Paul, the rest of that sentence reads, "to die is gain." My fear for T.O. is that his sentence reads differently. We know the reasons to live, but to die would be vain, not gain. The vanity of a public figure taking his own life leads to memorials, but nothing of significant, eternal value. There may have been a scholarship fund set up in his name at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, his alma mater. The sale of T.O. jerseys mave have sent proceeds to some drug overdose research fund. However, that would be the end of it.

The truly sad part is this, "Riches do not profit in the day of wrath..." Twenty-five million reasons to live wasn't enough. Standing before the Lord, T.O. (or anyone else, for that matter) could speak of his success and great wealth, but it doesn't profit anything. For all the profit there was in this life, there is no profit in judgment to having great wealth. Jesus told a parable in Luke 12 about a rich man who had so much wealth stored that he had to tear down his barns to build bigger ones. Once he did that, he felt like he could relax...saying, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry" (v. 19). He had 25 million reasons to live, and they were all in a barn out back. However, the story goes on, and God says, "You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?" (v. 20). Jesus concludes, "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

Is it important to leave an inheritance for our children? Yes. "A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children..." (Proverbs 13:22). However, that is not storing up treasures for ourselves. That is storing up treasures for the sake of our children's future...again, for another blog. Think about Proverbs 3:9 - "Honor the Lord with your wealth..." Now, if we take Kim Etheredge's words to heart, then the reason T.O. lives is for the bottom line in his bank account. If that is the case, then is he honoring the Lord with his wealth? Does it honor the Lord for anyone (rich, poor, or somewhere in between) to find their reason for living in pieces of paper with dead presidents on them? Should wealth be the reason for living? Should wealth be the source of joy? Should life be great with Jesus, but it's really better if you're rich, too? The answer to all of these is, emphatically, no.

We have to learn the secret of being content whether we have much or little, whether we have plenty or we're on empty, whether the bank is overflowing or barely dripping with money. It is a secret that Paul learned, and in Philippians 4:13, we see how he did it. "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." I have a friend who recently said that he felt he had the gift of earning a lot of money so that he could give a lot of it away. Both are true...he makes a lot of money, and he gives a lot of it to grow the kingdom and help those who need it. Certainly, he takes care of his family, but he's not tearing down barns in order to build bigger ones. He's financing the expansion of the kingdom of God. There's a reason for working...there's a reason for living.

"For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). Can you say the same? Don't get trapped in the "25 million reasons." Live for this one.