Two ladies were talking about a rich man who had died. ‘How much did he leave?’ asked one. ‘Everything!’ replied the other. As the saying goes, ‘There are no pockets in a shroud.’ (20).
This is admittedly a disturbing story. I don’t think it is necessarily saying that it is wrong to have possessions, but it gives a clear message that you won’t find your true life in anything material (15). You just won’t! Learn from others. Draw on the lessons of the past. Think about how the writer of ‘Ecclesiastes’ in the Old Testament, tried everything; had everything, but found no satisfaction in any of it. He could have written the song,’But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ Consider the lottery and pools winners who have admitted,or shown,that their lives were not enhanced by their winnings.
I think this passage is not so much about the amount of stuff you possess as your attitude to it all. It raises two important questions in particular:
a) Are you looking for life in material things?
b) Do you find your security in what you have? The Bible teaches elsewhere the wisdom of a prudent preparation for the future ( e.g. Proverbs 30:25). But what we have here in the ‘rich man’ is someone who presumed upon a future that he was not going to have. He made his plans without reference to God. (Look at James 4:13-17 and you will see a shiny, bright commentary on this farmer and his attitude.) He was also only interested in keeping his ‘treasure’ for himself. There is no evidence that he thought about sharing or giving.
This section also teaches us not to covet what we do not have. How carefully, then, we must live in a materialistic world in which clever advertisers are constantly sending out seductive messages that ( if we heed them) will cause us to want what we don’t have and will never need. They are like the sirens luring the unguarded onto the rocks by their spellbinding ‘music’. ‘If only you had this…if only you had that…you would be happy.’ It’s a lie. Someone said that materialism is like drinking sea water ( salt water) – the more you have, the more you want.
You have to come away from this parable asking, ‘What does it mean to be ‘rich toward God’?(21). I think there may be a clue in that when this man prospered, there is no record of him thanking God for the blessings, nor asking Him how to use it. A steward does not ‘own’. He or she takes care of the property of another, and they can’t use their boss’s property how the see fit. They have to be in touch with him and listen to his instructions.
From a Christian perspective, good stewardship involves thanking God for all you have and seriously praying for direction in its use.
Prayer: Lord I thank you for bountifully blessing me in ways I do not deserve. I want to say how grateful I am for all your gifts. If you did not give me another thing I would still have multiplied reasons to thank you. Help me to live gratefully, and wisely and prayerfully, so that I may be rich toward God. This is my true desire.