He committed what many consider to be the largest financial fraud in the history of the United States. Bernie Madoff, once a Wall Street tycoon, went to prison for knowingly stealing an estimated $65 billion from his 400+ clients. No, apparently he didn’t start out planning to mislead these unsuspecting victims. It was a gradual process over many years in a supposed trust relationship.
If you are like me, I often read about someone like Madoff and cannot identify with what he did. How can I? I am not wealthy like he was and I do not live in the world of luxury like him. It is very easy to read this simply as news without it hitting too close to home.
Take a closer look, though. Maybe you and I can identify with Madoff more than we think. Have you ever told a lie, even if very small? Have you ever “borrowed” a pen or made personal copies at work? Were you ever given too much change by the grocery store and decided it wasn’t worth returning? Even though these may seem like very small instances, the way you and I choose to respond reflect what is in our hearts. What is in our hearts often results in behaviors that will either develop greater character or take us down a path of eventual destruction.
Read the Bible’s timeless wisdom on this subject and consider how it may apply to you:
“The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the falseness of the treacherous will destroy them” (Proverbs 11:3).
“A good name is more desired than great riches, favor is better than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1).
“Better is the poor who walks in integrity, than he who is crooked though he be rich” (Proverbs 28:6).
Am I implying here that the wealthy are always crooked or it is somehow wrong to have wealth? No. Proverbs 10:22 says, “It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich,
and He adds no sorrow to it.” The Lord is not against wealth and even enables some to be entrusted with more for His kingdom purposes. It is the misuse of wealth and the trust in it that brings sorrow.
When Bernie Madoff started off, in 1960 at the age of 22, as a penny stock trader with just $5,000, he probably did not expect to end up fifty years later in prison. What might you be doing today that needs to be changed with God’s help? Go to God and ask Him for help in your every day life. He is waiting with open arms.
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at www.OneMaster.org.