Take heed, and beware of all covetousness” — seeming to remind the man of the Ninth and Tenth Commandments -  “Thou shalt not covet ....”. Actually Jesus’ concern is more basic — going back to the very First Commandment ... “You shall have no other gods.”

The man’s concern poses a question as basic as the role we give possessions (the material ones, the intellectual ones, the sensual ones) in our lives — are possessions those tools which we, by the Grace of God, possess -or- are possessions those things which by our own idolatry and covetousness  possess us?

Jesus refused to be the judge or divider in a dispute over possessions.  Instead like the Ultimate Accountant He is, Jesus talked about the real value of things and how to invest temporal treasure in ways which produce the only possessions which can never escape our grasp.

Jesus had been telling the people about the Kingdom of God — offering  life’s greatest possessions: eternal relationship with God filled with love, faith, forgiveness, citizenship in the Divine Kingdom.  Jesus must have looked with such Sorrow and Compassion upon that man who couldn’t hear about those possessions because his ears had been closed by thoughts of disputed material possessions.

“What shall it profit a man if he gains the entire world and forfeits his soul? What shall it profit a man if he gives control over his life to his basest passions and forfeits The Word of God and the forgiveness and reconciliation with God it contains?  What will a man – or institutions – give as an exchange for the soul and life in God’s Kingdom?”

I can picture Jesus — sorrow in His eyes and an understanding smile on His lips.  “You know, I once knew a rich man whose fertile farm produced fine crops.  In fact, his barns were filled to overflowing — he couldn’t find enough storage space for his entire crop.  He thought about his problem, and finally said, ‘I know what I’ll do.  I’ll tear down my barns and build larger ones. Then I’ll have the room I need. Then I’ll sit back and say to myself, I finally have enough.  I’m set for years to come.  Now I’ll take it easy and start to do all those things I’ve wanted to do, but had to put off until now.’”

Jesus is speaking compassionately about a man or a woman who never really seems to be able to find time for God or for family and friends — planned to go and worship several Sundays, but things came up -   though about reading a chapter or two from THE HOLY BIBLE each morning before leaving for work, but there was never enough time.  

Would have enjoyed playing catch with Bobby and seeing Mary dance in that school play – but I need to get ahead of my competitors.

Well, just a little longer — one more season — then I’d finally have enough. I’ll do all those things I’d been putting off until a better time — worship God and prayerfully study THE HOLY BIBLE ... have quality time with family and friends ... nourish spirit and soul ... use some God-given time and talents at the church. One more season and I can start to do all those things I’d wanted to do, but had to put off until .......

In Jesus’ parable, God said to the man, “Fool!  This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

Has Shakespeare ever written a more tragic ending? A life ends without truly accepting the temporal and eternal relationship God offers us at such great cost to Himself. A life ends without ever having that catch or seeing that school play.  A life ends and  only possessions remain to ever so faintly remind us that  person was ever here.

His parable ended, Jesus looked sadly at the crowd gathered around Him and said, “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Of all the Biblical passages people misquote, the one I hear most often is "Money is the root of all evil."  God never said that.  

Speaking through St. Paul in his 1st EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY (6:10), God said, "For the love of money is a root of all evil."  The Greek word for the love of money is φιλαργυρία - avarice- a greater desire for and trust in anything more than in the relationship God is offering us - the sin of idolatry in all its forms. In Jesus’ parable, there is no odium attached to the riches the man had — only to the control he permitted those riches to have over his life.

Money is like guns, trucks and all those other inanimate objects which God has given us as tools – tools having no moral or immoral value in themselves – tools over which God has made us His stewards. 

The faith and morality – or lack thereof – is in the people not the tools.

We are living at a time when a popular way to deal with sin is to blame God-given tools or to blame people who mistreat us rather than the human sinner in the need of the Salvation and renewal of life only Christ can give.

Jesus tells the questioner in the crowd and us that life is about establishing priorities and about determining where we are placing our ultimate faith.  How much of our trust is truly in God?  How much of our time and effort in life goes into the relationship God has established with us and our relationships with others?

God created us in the Image of God to live the relationship God created us to live with God now and eternally. God created us for human relationships.   Everything else God created in this universe is a tool — tools for us to use in fulfilling what it means to be created and to live in the Image of God – as sinners redeemed by Jesus Christ and enlightened and empowered by The Holy Spirit – with The Word of God as life’s ultimate “How To” Book.

THE PEACE OF GOD WHICH PASSES ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOUR — JESUS THE CHRIST — OUR ULTIMATE TREASURE.  AMEN.

+________________________+

 Twelfth Sunday of the Trinity Season

August 12, 2018

Written by Dr. Kurt Borows & preached by John Hazzard Resurrection Lutheran Church, Catawba Island, Port Clinton, Ohio

 

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