Probably my favorite musical of all time is The Fiddler on the Roof. I loved it as a child before I really understood what it was about, and I love it as an adult now because of the music, because of the history, because of the characters, because of the setting. It’s a brilliant, beautiful story, and I’m super excited that Music Theatre of Wichita will be performing it this summer. Tevye, the main character, wants to be wealthy. And that’s what I thought of today when I read this morning’s verse.
Today’s verse is Luke 12:15.
Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
This is Jesus talking. This statement comes from the Parable of the Rich Fool. You can find it in Luke 12:13-21. It’s a story Jesus told about a man who lived on a very fertile farm that produced a lot of crops. And so he decided that he would build more barns and store all of his grain and be wealthy so he didn’t have to work anymore. This is also where we get the phrase, “Eat, drink and be merry!” because that’s what he told himself he would do. However, just after the man accomplishes all of this, he dies. And everything he worked for was for nothing because he couldn’t take it with him.
It’s very tempting to want to measure the worth of our lives by our possessions because possessions are easy to value. You can get to thinking that you are wealthy because you have so much money or so much land or so much of this or so much of that. And when you think that you are wealthy because of those things, it’s easy to rely on them.
There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. The Bible says repeatedly, not only in statements but also in concept, that it’s the love of money that is evil. It’s loving money more than God that is dangerous and leads to sin. It’s not money itself. Money is a tool to be used to help bring more people to Christ. But we have a difficult time looking at money that way.
Going back to Tevye from The Fiddler on the Roof, he wanted to be a wealthy man because he didn’t want to have to work anymore. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but what’s more important? Seeking wealth or treasuring the wealth you already have?
Most of us are more wealthy than the richest king in the world. If you live in the United States or if you live in a developed nation — or if you have your health — or if you have a family — you are wealthy. Maybe not in terms of possessions or in terms of your bank account, but if you have food to eat and a roof over your head, you are already better off than many other people in the world. And if you have a car to drive? That sort of wealth puts you in the top percentile of the world.
And, as my awesome Pastor likes to say, King Solomon was the richest person to ever exist, and he’d never had a hot fudge sundae. Think about that.
We. Are. Wealthy.
And where has it gotten us? We focus on money until we can’t see anything else. We focus on obtaining riches so we can live a comfortable life. Well, I don’t know if we were necessarily meant to live a comfortable life here. Yes, it’s good to take care of our families. Yes, it’s good to have a roof over your head. But spending the exorbitant amount of money we do on our things? On possessions that won’t last and do nothing to reach into eternity? Is that what we’re supposed to do? Is that how we’re supposed to use our money?
Build bigger barns? Eat, drink and be merry?
I don’t think so.
If you have money, don’t love it; use it. And do as Christ says. Don’t measure the worth of your life by what you own because when your life on earth is over, you won’t have your possessions anymore. What you’ll take with you into eternity are your good works and your heart. And if you spent all your time on earth pursuing money and wealth and fame, those things will burn to ashes because they’re made of nothing more substantial than straw.
But if you leverage your resources to do good for others who can’t do good back to you, if you spend your time and your effort helping the less fortunate, if you sacrifice to see that the things God is doing are done well, those things will last.
Don’t build a bigger barn. Fill up the one you have and give the rest away. That’s more than wealth. That’s how God wants us to live.