By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. Proverbs 22:4
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. Proverbs 23:5
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21
This blogger has always been suspicious of the virtual currency bitcoin. I've never believed the hype about it having no central authority; it didn't invent itself, someone's pulling the strings, and I suspect that a few people at the top will end up making a lot of money at the expense of many people at the bottom. There have already been scandals (see, for example, here and here); crime (see here and here); and even a suspicious reported suicide. A leading bitcoin developer quit his association with the currency in January 2016, calling it a "failed experiment."
The following anecdotes illustrate the transitory nature of worldly wealth in general, and the impalpability of bitcoin in particular. As reported by Alexandra Posadzki in the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail, November 10, 2017:
All the while, the price of bitcoins has fluctuated wildly. In late 2013, it climbed more than 400 per cent, from around $180, to almost $1,000 in just over a month. Its recent upward streak has created surprise windfalls for a number of early adopters, including Nathan Wosnack.I wonder if the man who traded bitcoins for beer in the first anecdote is named Esau (see Genesis 25:29-34). Christian writer Dave Breese, who's now with the Lord, put the matter of wealth into proper perspective (all capitals in original):
In the spring of 2010, Mr. Wosnack was hanging out at his Vancouver office when a friend offered to trade him 10 bitcoins for half a case of Rickard's Honeybrown ale. Bitcoins were trading roughly on par with the U.S. dollar at the time, so Mr. Wosnack agreed. (By today's values, the bitcoins he received for that half-case are worth about $67,000 – surely the most lopsided trade yet.)
He forgot about the bitcoins until almost four years later when he was home sick with the flu and running low on cash. He ran the bitcoin wallet software on his old laptop. It took several hours for the code, which was out of date, to update. At 2 a.m., a pop-up window alerted him that the bitcoins were still there. They were trading at about $900 a pop...
...When Matt Lefebvre first started mining bitcoin in 2010, he had no clue what it was for. By the end of the year the Richmond Hill, Ont. resident had amassed roughly 13,000 bitcoins – the modern-day equivalent of more than $90-million – on a USB stick.
But the following year, Mr. Lefebvre made a disastrous mistake. He accidentally wrote over the data with Windows 8 – "arguably the worst possible operating system since Windows ME," he said.
It has taken him years to get over the loss, while the price of bitcoins has continued to climb.
"I tried literally everything to get the data back," says Mr. Lefebvre, who is now a professional YouTuber who creates videos about technology. He often daydreams about what he would have done with the money. Home ownership is at the top of his list.
"I had a winning lottery ticket, didn't know it was a winning lottery ticket and set it on fire," he said.
There is no recourse for people like Mr. Lefebvre who lose access to their coins, which will likely sit dormant in cyberspace forever. And unfortunately, tales like his are not uncommon. Perhaps the most famous of such stories is that of British resident James Howells, who in 2013 accidentally tossed away a hard drive containing roughly 8,000 bitcoins. Today his virtual fortune – currently worth more than $50-million – sits in a landfill the size of several football fields.
Mr. Howells has visited the landfill but was unable to get permission from the local council to search the site – despite offering them a 10-per-cent cut and having numerous financial backers willing to finance the venture. But the Newport resident has not given up. Bitcoin's rapidly accelerating price in recent months has buoyed his hopes.
"As the price continues to rise, I'm confident I will be given permission to search for the hard drive at some point in the future," he told The Globe and Mail via e-mail. "Even at current prices, the value of the drive is too high for the council to keep ignoring."
What then is true value, the wealth by which we live? Think of this as if life itself depended upon it, because it does. True value, as all but fools must plainly see, is divine favor, THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
The grace of God is that ultimate value from which all other values are derived and without which the idea of possessions is pure fantasy and the hope of gain is a preposterous, dangerous delusion. The equation is simple: a person who does not know the grace of God is infinitely poor, and one who has come into the protection and provision of the grace of God is rich with a wealth beyond the collected possessions of the kings of the earth. Dave Breese, The Wealth by Which We Live, 1982, p. 20.