Ecclesiastes 4:4–8, Ecclesiastes 5:8–17, Luke 12:13–21
“Earn all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can.” —John Wesley
Money and all that it can get a person is what drives so much. The worst aspects of capitalism are very visible, and rightly so. The media (capitalistic endeavors) are quick to question many with money. However, not all are questioned equally. Even as certain capitalistic practices are in the spotlight, still others are being hidden or ignored. Capitalism, despite being the current target, isn’t the only one with severe gaps of power.
The wisdom of Ecclesiastes warns that those that pursue money/wealth/power may find themselves to be very lonely people, without companion, children or grandchildren. In this day and age, people consciously make that decision. When Ecclesiastes was written, this was really a huge insult and failure. The family was the primary social group. If you didn’t have a family and seemed to have chosen a path to not have one, you were letting down your parents, ancestors, and tribe. For such people, the value of all the work, all that life working, is lost in an instant. Despite all the wisdom, including secular and other religions, a shiny coin (proverbially) will lead people down a path away from people and God. They miss a lot of the Very Good Life. Very Good Life involves people. Of course, people also can be painful to live with. So, money often becomes a substitute relationship, for it doesn’t emotionally hurt you.
When Jesus speaks to the man about his inheritance, it is not a matter of justice, but a matter of wealth. Obviously, there were some family issues that needed to be resolved. The inheritance was just a sign of the problem. The man had confused gain (wealth) with something completely different. This is why Jesus talks about the landowner who had had a successful crop. The landowner’s first response wasn’t, “Praise God!” It was, “horde more!” It is not that great crops and riches are bad, it is where they fit into our relationship with God and people. In verse 20, Jesus says, “…whose will they be?” The echo of Ecclesiastes is there. “No one you cared for will receive it,” could be said, “because you cared for no one other than yourself.”
1) Have you ever made a decision of money or power or influence over people? If you say no, then you might want to reconsider (we all do it to some degree). If yes, what was that decision? Did you evaluate the decision based on people or something else?
2) Throughout history, there have been people who have had no companion to love. How do you see yourself in such people? Do you know anyone like this? How can you love them?
3) How do you balance God’s blessings (including those you worked for) in comparison to seeking more?