What Riches Cannot Do

“Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him, for the redemption of their souls is costly” (Psalm 49:6-8).

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Those who are rich know that their riches can do a lot that is positive for them and also for their friends. But there are many things that riches cannot do, and here is one that is very important.

Any amount of riches cannot redeem a soul, neither yours nor anyone else’s. Doubtless you would want to do the best possible thing for your brother or someone you love, and many a time money enables you to do it. But the most important and precious thing anyone has is their soul. Our bodies matter, but they are mortal. Our souls are for ever and they matter much more. What can you do to save someone’s soul? Precisely nothing!

But the good news of the gospel is that the price of the redemption of a soul has been paid, not with “silver or gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Nothing else is required. The great ransom has been paid in full by the Son of God on the cross. Whoever accepts Him as Saviour is redeemed, set free from sin’s penalty and Satan’s power.

In the verse which comes next in Psalm 49, we read about something else that riches cannot do. They cannot prolong life. They cannot postpone death. But by accepting the redemption available in Christ, a new life – called “eternal life” – can be ours. It begins here and now and continues for ever in heaven. Death, when it comes, is then a gateway into more life on a different plane. Access to it now is free because the price has been paid in full. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).