We all know about the ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff. It was worth more then $60 billion. But now in prison Madoff says he works in the one of the stores of his prison as “a glorifed bag boy” for $170 a month. He believes he deserves to go to prison and to he punished. As I read part of Barbra Walters’ interview with Madoff I thought of the words of scripture, “God opposes the proud, but give grace the humble.” I wondered if Madoff is experiencing the grace of God after his fall to the bottom. It is hard to imagine how far he has fallen. But remember; a man can be lifted up in the arms of grace and mercy when he as been humbled and repents of his wrong doing. I pray that for Bernie Madoff. He has ruined the lives of countless people because of greed and arrogance. Proverbs tells us, “There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death.”
In prison Madoff says, “I feel safer here than outside. Days go by. I have people to talk to and no decisions to make…I know, that I will die in prison…I lived the last 20 years of my life in fear. Now I have no fear…nothing to think about because I’m no longer in control of my life.” What do you make of this comment? Here is a man who lived in the lap of luxury as one admired for his investment skills. He was rich and well connected. People trusted him with their life savings. Yet he lived in fear. Fear of what? I suppose it had to be the fear of being found out. His whole enterprise was a lie. He had to deny his very soul. Jesus tells us, “What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Bernie Madoff had to deny his very soul, while living in fear of others and probably himself. Men, let me testify that there is nothing quite like the incredible freedom of being a man of integrity. In other words, what you see is what you get. What peace there is to be able to look others straight in the eyes with a “clear conscience.” Bernie Madoff was haunted by his secret life. Men, don’t go down that path. Don’t compartmentalize your life. You will begin to lose your soul, that is, the person that you really are created to be. Bernie Madoff was a fraud and he knew it. That’s why he lived in fear, fear of his past and great fear of the future. Now in prison he has less fear of the past, because he is “locked up,” but he most be haunted about the future.
We also have a small window into his family life. After his son, Mark committed sucide in Dec. of 2010 Madoff’s daughter-in-law, Stephanie blamed him. She said, “I’d spit in his face” if she saw him. His wife visited him in prison after the sucide, where they had a very emotional meeting. She said to her husband, “let me go.” They have not spoken to one another since. To me, this is the saddest reality of life in prison. Bernie Madoff is in prison, separated from the rest of the world he once knew. He says, “Ruth (his wife) hates me. She has no one.” He said, “Not seeing my family and knowing they hate me” is hard matter to deal with as he lives alone in prison. Let me ask you men, is this worth all the deception and duplicity of a $60 billion ponzi scheme.
Again I say loud and clear to whoever reads this blog, that your life is made up of relationships. It’s how you live with God, others, especially your family and yourself. So my encouragement to men today, is to pay attention to your relationships. Be a man – stand up – and live open, honest, repentant and transparent lives before God, others and yes, yourself. Don’t be like Bernie Madoff, allowing yourself to be cut of from the life of your soul. I have found that living as honestly as I am able with those closest to me is the most humbling aspect of my walk with Jesus. But as I cry out for mercy, He give me grace to live with integrity and honesty. Listen to these words of Jesus. “Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal” (John 12:24-25 – The Message).