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Pentecost 20

October 18, 2009

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Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 24)
18 October 2009

Ecclesiastes 5:10-20

What you love you cling to with all your heart.  What you love you devote yourself entirely.  And what is it we love?  Is it money?  Is money what we look to for all our comfort, joy, and security?  Is the accumulation of money the determining factor for everything we do?  Do we look to money and what we accumulate with money to give us identity and status?   Then that’s idolatry.  And it’s a deadly sin of the heart. 

The heart is an idol factory.  Like a Ford assembly line in Detroit the heart cranks out idol after idol in our lives.  And Idol Money – she is so seductive.  Alluring.  Charming.  Sultry.  Sexy.   And once she has you in her embrace as her lover she turns on you.  When she replaces Jesus as the center of your life she will destroy you.  Seductress that she is – she  consumes her communicants.  She promises rest and pleasure.  Instead, she requires your undivided attention, devotion, and worship, 24-7-365.  She gives you no rest.  There is no Sabbath Day with Idol Money!  She will work you to death.  A death in which you will die apart from Jesus.  And then your entire life on this earth is “meaningless – vanity.” 

King Solomon, who wrote this text, had more treasure and material goods than anyone could imagine.  Having money is not a sin.  But fearing, loving, and trusting in it with all your heart instead of Jesus is.  “Whoever loves money never has enough money.  Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”

King Solomon had been there and done that.  You name it he did it.  With gusto!  Not half-heartedly.  But with all of his being he tried to find the wisdom and meaning of life with hundreds of the most beautiful women in the world, fancy mansions, gold encrusted furniture, dishes, and silverware. Extravagant gardens, lavish parties, decadent foods, exquisite wines, precious jewelry, dozens of lawyers, hundreds of body guards, and thousands of servants. 

Name the toy.  Name the pleasure.  The biggest.  The littlest.  King Solomon had it all.  He denied himself nothing.  When he worked he worked as hard as he could.  Always making a deal.  Trading.  Conquering.  When he studied he studied like no one in the history of the world.  And when he played boy did he play.  Entertained and impressed royalty from all over the ancient world like the Queen of Sheba.  And the wealth King Solomon accumulated in his lifetime was beyond anything that you, me, Warren Buffet or Donald Trump could ever imagine even here in America. 

And yet what did King Solomon discover?  What did he learn?  What did he write that should be required reading for every American?  Even all of us here at Trinity, Murdock? “Whoever loves money never has enough money.  Whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.”   When you look to money and what money can buy for all your comfort, identity, and good, she never lets you rest.  You will have to work more and more and more for her.  If you love her, you’ll never get enough of her.  Because you’re always worried about losing her.

If you love money, you are like a person that drinks salt water to quench his thirst.  You must have more!  An endless, relentless, rat race.  And “as your stuff increases so do those who want to take it from you.”  You’ll have to fight off all kinds of beggars, parasites, thieves, tax men, and con artists.  Overindulgence in food and drink from your wealth will give you indigestion, poor health, and sleepless nights.  “The abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep,” Solomon says.  

What about you who hoard your wealth like a scrooge? Who hold on to it so tight that the undertaker will have to pry it from your dead hands?  Solomon warns you that it will harm you.  How?  You endlessly worry.  Constantly anxious.  About all the toys you have and all the toys you endlessly want.  Then there is the forevermore fear that you’re just one bad investment, another stock market crash, or one mistaken business venture away from losing everything and leaving nothing for your children.  And finally there is the deep, dark dread that you’ll leave this world the same way you entered it.  Naked.  With absolutely nothing!

King Solomon:  the Lord gave him wisdom.  The wisdom that without faith in Jesus as the center – without the fear, love, and trust in Jesus above all things – everything – absolutely everything is “meaningless.”   Great wealth and loads of toys all by themselves do not make you happy or give meaning to life unless you realize that whatever you have (whether it’s a little or a lot) all comes from Jesus as pure gift. 

Jesus is God.  Savior God.  All gifts come from Him through the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit.  If you don’t believe that then all of life is vanity, useless, or evil.  No wonder many are so angry and frustrated with life and living in this world.

Solomon, however says:  “Then I learned that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink.  To find satisfaction in my work even if I just live for a few years under the sun.”  Why?  Because God is the Giver.  Of everything. 

And so money and the possessions that it buys are all from God’s good hand.  Rich in faith is the wisdom that Solomon learned.  Rich in faith toward Jesus who died for you.  He became poor so that you may be rich spiritually.  Having the treasures of heaven.  Forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, His most holy Name, His Body and Blood. 

Such faith in Jesus leads not to cold and callous hearts but hearts that learn the wisdom of knowing that all is not in vain.  Life does have meaning.  Lives lived receiving all that the Lord Jesus gives:  physically and spiritually.  And lives and hearts that gladly do what the Lord’s given you to do whatever that is.  Being kind.  Being generous where He’s put you.  After all, your life doesn’t consist in the amount of money you have or the possessions you accumulate.  You have a different Lord.  He is Jesus the Christ.  He is the Lord your God.   

With Him life has meaning.  Work, pleasure, giving, receiving, or whatever in this life is satisfying.  Because you belong to the Crucified and Risen Jesus.  He has you in His nail-scarred Hands. 

In the Name of Jesus.          

From → "B" Sermons

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