For a time I lived in Plymouth and one of the things I loved to do was to go to Plymouth Hoe and watch the National Firework Championships. Each year in August tens of thousands of people braved the often damp weather to watch spectacular firework displays. Over the course of the two evenings you could enjoy some wonderful pyrotechnics of all shapes and sizes. During one of these events a number of years ago, there was a world-record breaking simultaneous launch of 56 thousand 420 rockets. I’m reliably informed that there were indeed this many fireworks, as I rather lost count myself.
These firework shows were both enjoyable and impressive. But they got me thinking about just how much these dramatic displays might have cost. How much money quite literally went up in smoke over the course of those two evenings? Having never personally put on a firework display I have no way of knowing, but I imagine it is no cheap affair.
Perhaps it seems extravagant to watch things exploding overhead for our enjoyment when there are so many people around the world who have so very little. There I am, eating and drinking while the sky explodes in colour. And yet so many people lack clean water to drink or food to eat. With a moment’s thought it’s easy to feel a bit guilty as we enjoy such wonderful entertainment.
But then again perhaps these firework displays can teach us something very important about money. A firework burns brightly for a time for people to enjoy, and then it is lost forever. In the same way, wealth and prosperity are just as temporary as that firework. Even if we can hold on to wealth, which is difficult to do, it will only serve us for a short time. As the old adage goes, “you can’t take it with you when you go.”
The Bible has quite a bit to say about money, and most of it is a warning not to put our trust in wealth. Money is a gift from God to be used wisely and enjoyed. But our strength and security should be found in him not our bank accounts. Money ought to serve us and not the other way around.
So perhaps the incredible firework displays teach us an important lesson. Like rockets, money should be used and enjoyed. Preferably it should be used to help others, including those in great need, since that is a source of even greater enjoyment. But we ought to remember that money is fleeting. It does not last. Our hope and security should be found in God. And the money we have should be used to brighten the way toward knowing him better.