Money, Money, Money Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-23 July 31, 2022

Money is a very important part of our culture.  The phrase; “show me the money” has entered our life and times.  The world bases our value on how much money we are earning, or how much we are making.  I wonder what that says to our school teachers?

Two lessons for today, Ecclesiastes and Luke, deal with money.  Let’s see what the scripture and especially our Lord have to say about money.

Ecclesiastes starts out rather worldly.  Life is but a breath, and each of us is here but a short time.  Now that I am approaching 82, I say Amen.  How is it that the years have passed so quickly?

You work hard, gain some wealth, you die, and someone else gets all your financial resources.

But when we look a little closer at life some other truths emerge.  All that I have is a good gift from God.  I own nothing.  When I see the Lord face to face, I will need to render an accounting of what I had in the way of resources, money, ability, and time.  And what did I do with them.

Another truth is since all I have is a gift from God and those who lived before me, I am hopeful I will leave this world a little better when I am gone, and leave my children some resources they can use to make their life and the lives of those around them better.

In the meantime, our earth is shouting out.  There are too many hydrocarbons in the air.   This is why some places are experiencing drought and other places too much rain.  If we don’t get our act together, we are going to die in our own pollution.  What kind of world are we leaving for our descendants?  If we don’t act soon, it will be too late, and humanity will die and the world will cleanse itself and start over.

Now let us look at the situation in our gospel for today.

A young person in the crowd asked Jesus; “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”  In Jesus’ day the eldest son got a double share of the family’s inheritance when his father died.  It is his task to share the rest with the other members of the family.  We don’t know why he had not done that, but Jesus does not react favorably to his request.

“Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?”  And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

He then tells them a parable.  The land of a rich man produced abundantly.  He was really excited.  Such a bumper crop could make it possible for him to retire and live a life of ease.  So, he decided he needed to take down his current barn and build a much larger barn to store the crop.  That night God came to him and said, “Tonight your life will end and who will have all your riches?”  “So, it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich before God.”

What did the rich man miss?  He had a big crop, how did he become so poor in God’s eyes?

Almighty God says all you have is a gift from me, and what you do with it is your gift to God.  My son Jesus has told you if you have two coats give one to a person who has none.  Jesus said additionally; “I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink.  Whatever you have done for the least of humanity you have done to me.”

It is obvious when the man who was already rich had an abundant crop it was  time to share his food with the hungry.  There are certainly enough hungry people in the world.  But instead he only thought about himself and his needs and focused on gathering it all up and keeping it for himself and his future.

I experienced this in my own family.  When we moved from Ohio to North Carolina we were able to assume the mortgage on a home three months before we were scheduled to arrive.  My father had been encouraging the move and promised to help out, if needed.

A month before we moved, the family living in the house decided to move out, and we were facing the mortgage payment without our first paycheck here.  We did not have the resources to pay the mortgage.   I asked my father for financial help.  He said, “Sorry son, with my being sick recently, I cannot help you.”  In the meantime a $1,000 check came from Ann’s parents with the note, “Welcome to the upper poverty level.”  They had both been teachers in the public school system.  Their retirement was so small the both of them had to work to make ends meet.  On the other hand they were deeply committed Christians who gave to the church regularly 10% of their income as is suggested by the Bible.  I don’t know how they did it, but somehow, they were able to send us the money that made it possible to continue the purchase of our own home.

A year later in a fit of depression my father committed suicide.  I went out to California to conduct his funeral and settle some final issues.  I opened his safe at home and found $20,000 in US savings bonds, along with a bank passbook, where it was recorded there was a large account in both of our names.  He could have easily helped us the year before.  But fear kept it from happening, and now he was dead.

God has given us life.  God has given us his son who showed the way to more abundant life, then died on a Cross to free us from the powers of sin and death.

It is as he says; “Trust me, I might not give you all you want, but daily I will give you what you need.  Trust in me and do not lean on your own understanding.  I will give you all you need and enough to share with those who are needy.  If you do, you will experience a deeper joy in living beyond human understanding”.  Amen.

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