"HOW RICH ARE YOU REALLY?"
A survey was taken of adults in which they were asked questions concerning their growing up experiences. The following example is just one of the stories that emerged from that survey:
A business man was driving home from his office somewhat earlier than usual one afternoon. He stopped in a line of cars at a red traffic signal. The car immediately in front of him had a large sign affixed to its roof identifying it as a Driver Education Vehicle. When the light turned green, the Driver Education vehicle was very slow in getting moving. It lurched a few feet forward, then stopped. Same thing happened a second time, with one final lurch, the car stalled. The young gal driver-trainee at the wheel was obviously very flustered. However, the driving instructor, sitting next to her stayed calm and cool. However, the business man in the car behind them did not--he became angry, outraged and finally stepped on the accelerator, and roared by--yelling some choice words as he passed them. About an hour later, the flustered driver of the Driver's Training car staggered into the house and asked, "Where's dad?
"Why is something wrong?" the mother asked. Well, he seemed to be in a terrible rush today. I recognized him in the rear view mirror when I was having trouble shifting at a stoplight in Driver's Ed. today. Mother replied: "Oh, dad's fine. He came home a little early today, turned on the TV and fell asleep watching it. 1
This is an example of misplaced priorities that the daughter never forgot. It was a case of mixed up values, chasing after nothing, hurrying up to slow down, and seeking after the wrong things. It was terribly foolish, even damaging.
Two things stand out about this Man: Rich Fool: He never saw beyond himself. He never saw beyond his world!!
In today's Gospel Lesson, our Lord talks about foolish things. In fact, He actually gives an example of what makes for a fool! Namely, a, fool is.." someone who piles up riches for himself, but is not rich in his relationship towards his God." So the question arises, "How rich are you, really?" To deal with that question, let's ask some additional question our text forces upon us. They are questions we will have to give an eternal answer to someday, so we might well look at them
First: The things you pursued or set your mind upon in the last days and weeks--to round it off--let's say this spring / summer --how many of them would be significant or of any real consequence.
If Jesus were to come to you this very night and say, "This night thy soul is required of thee. Come with Me!" We have often used this tactic to perhaps frighten people into a relationship with God but is really something we should reflect on as we walk with him. Often we spend so much time and energy scrambling to get what we want, that we seldom, if ever, pause to ask why we want it and what difference it will really make if we manage to get it.
--if you. did get a raise, then what? Was it a fair one? How much is enough?
--if you did get a better home, then what? What's good enough? Big enough? What principles do you use to guide yourself as you seek to move ahead by our world's standards?
--Or perhaps, if you did manage to retire a little earlier, then what? Who's
extra time will that become and how will it be used? Romans had a proverb “Money was like sea water: the more a man drank the thirstier he became.”
--Or if your stock jumps five points tomorrow, so what?
Secondly: The matters you have pursued with most vigor or set your mind too, this spring /summer, how many of them actually are what Jesus would have called "things-?"
You know, the kind of materials, if you should attain, you have to build barns to store it, and all it will amount to in the end run is a more extensive, elaborate Last Will and Testament? The writer of the book of Ecclesisatstes has something very pointed to say about this. Let's look at Eccl. 2: 1-1 1
He calls it vanity and chasing after the wind, for in the end, you gather it all up for
someone else to enjoy after you are dead. "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? Luke 16:10-12
Third, the matters you pursued these past months did it have to do with people? With lasting values? Living relationships with people?
As I ponder this Gospel Lesson for myself--it confronts me with questions--questions that could cause me to be very uncomfortable--but perhaps, are questions sent to me for reflection --I would ask myself---Are those whose
lives you touch richer toward God because you have touched them? The question behind the questions- and it's a haunting one- is whether I use people, or take advantage of them or do I let God use me to make them rich in the things of the Spirit of God? Those things are commonly called the fruits of the Spirit.
Fruits God offers to all of us and wants us to each possess in some way--fruits that will enrich the lives of those we touch and will increase our fullness towards our God.
Jesus said," avoid greed in all its forms...a man may be wealthy, but his possessions do not guarantee him life.."
Finally , what kind of riches would you leave behind to those whose lives you have touched, to those whom Jesus has placed you in a direct relationship with? Think, perhaps, of your children. If they have watched you closely and come to parrot your riches, your values and priorities, what will they be rich in if they are faithful to what you have modeled for them?
Will you leave them behind with an abundance of--or in the words of our Gospel reading--will they be rich in ---
Lessons? Piano lesson, organ lessons, lessons in tennis, swimming, dancing, computer, and the list goes on and on?
Or will they have taken lesson from you in trusting God and loving Him above all things?
Skills? Skills in a trade, a profession, a craft or hobby?
Or will they firstly have skills they have learned from you in prayer, devotional life, skills in handling and understanding the Holy Scripture???
Riches? Riches that can be driven or flown. Riches that can be invested, saved loaned, turned into capital
Or will they have gained from your example riches in things spiritual and eternal. Rich in faith and prayer, and a wealth of hope in God?
WILL YOU LEAVE THEM WITH AN INHERITANCE WERE THEY WILL NEED BIGGER BARNS, OR SAFETY DEPOSIT BOXES TO HOLD, OR WILL YOU LEAVE THEM WITH "AN INHERITANCE LIKE THE WRITER OF FIRST PETER SPEAKS OF? AN INHERITANCE THAT ISN'T DESTROYED OR DEFILED AND NEVER FACES AWAY, AND IS KEPT FOR YOU IN HEAVEN ...THAT IS WAITING TO BE REVEALED AT THE END OF TIME.." (I Peter 1: 4,5)
18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. 1 Timothy 6 :18
Our blessed Lord told this parable to His disciples so they would experience the forgiveness of their sins--His forgiveness for those who have fallen into the sin of greed and covetousness. He not only wants us to see the subtle sin in ourselves. He wants us to cough it up and confess it. He wants us to let go of it so He can forgive it and free, us from it's bondage.
He wants us to know that to be really rich is to know Him and to be connected to Him by the cross, a cross that bridges the terrible chasm that separates us from Him--the chasm of our sins. He stands before us today wanting to fill our spiritual barns with his grace and peace, His love and wholeness.
In a world in which inflation has been known to run rampant, there is one thing that can keep pace with inflation. It will always be bigger than all of our debts, It can recover all our losses and cancel our spiritual bankruptcy. That one thing is the grace of God in Christ. It is God's promise to make rich--really rich--all who trust Him as their highest good, and put Him first regardless of the cost.
Work for the things which last forever!!!