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From CEO to Prison Row

Most people refuse to admit it, but there are times when money just ain't all it's cracked up to be. John Paul Getty, Jr., one of the wealthiest men of a past generation, once said, I find all this money a considerable burden." When does money become a burden instead of a blessing? Just ask Sam Waksal. Waksal is the disgraced former chief executive officer of ImClone Systems. On Tuesday, June 10, 2003 Waksal went from CEO to prison row when a federal judge sentenced him to 87 months in federal prison and fined him $3 million for his part in an in-sider trading scandal, bank fraud, perjuty,  and other charges (THE TENNESSEAN, Wednesday,  June 11, 2003, p 1 E). Waksal is learning the hard way that money becomes too expensivewhen you have to cheat and defraud in order to get it. He begins his sentence on July 2'.

Sound financial advice is hard to find in these days of get-rich-quick schemes and charlatans who promise they can make you rich if you will give them your money. An old piece of advice ought to be constantly called to mind: "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." Waksal got whacked by his own perverted values and greed. He filled his bank account with cash while emptying his heart and soul of character. Now he knows the price for low living is extremely high. The wages of sin is not a penthouse apartment, a 100' yacht, fabulous food, cool clothing and cars and vacations, etc. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Almost 3,000 years ago a very rich man gave sound financial advice you just won't hear from modem day financial gurus: "Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase" (Proverbs 13:11). Solomon's words remind us that wealth impoverishes some people more than it enriches them. Again in Proverbs 14:24 Solomon confronts us with the fact that money can be a crown or a curse: "The crown of the wise is their riches, but the foolishness of fools is folly." Solomon's words teach a lesson the Sam Waksals' of the world seem unwilling to learn: fools sometimes make money, but money also sometimes makes fools. While the Bible nowhere teaches there is anything wrong with men possessing riches, it frequently teaches there is plenty wrong when riches possess men. One final word from King Solomon about riches: "He who trusts in his riches will fall (Proverbs 11-28a). The New Living Translation renders this passage, "Trust in your money and down you go!" Money can lift you up - & it can also take you down, all the way down from CEO to prison row. Just ask Sam Waksal. After July 2nd,  you can contact him in federal prison.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ