The easy way out of this scripture reading this morning is to simply state that greed and hoarding is bad . . . sinfully bad. The focus of the story seems to be on accumulating wealth and riches . . . getting more and more, because there is never enough. That is what the rich man does, he accumulates wealth . . . lots of wealth. Life is going to be lived on easy street where he can eat, drink, and be merry. Then one night, God lets him know that he is going to die and die right then . . . so, God poses the question to the man: “What good is any of this if you are dead?” That would be the easy way out of this scripture reading . . . don’t be like the rich man who only accumulated wealth for himself . . . learn to share!
Most of the people I know in my life would tell you that they wouldn’t might having a little more in their lives when it comes to wealth . . . to money; but, at the same time, most of them would also say that they have enough . . . that they are really, deep down, pretty satisfied with what they have. They would tell you that their lives are comfortable . . . their needs are being met . . . and, in reality, they have everything that they need . . . they have enough. They are pretty content with where they are in life.
And, to be honest, I am probably right there with them. For the most part, I have enough. I am fairly content with what I have in my life . . . work that I enjoy . . . family and friends around me . . . money in the bank . . . a nice house to live in . . . plenty of food on the table . . . and, a beautiful to live. Life is pretty good . . . yeah, I have enough. What more could I want?
But what if God came a knocking on my door tonight? What if God came and confronted me with my death as God did with the rich man? What if God challenged my so-called wealth and me by asking, “What good is any of it if you die tonight?” How would I respond?
The problem with the story that Jesus is telling is that too often the listeners—us—focus on the wealth and riches part of the story. I think that is a big part of the make-up of the society in which we live . . . a big part of the American dream . . . that “more” is better and that there is never enough to satisfy, thus we are to strive for more and more. The focus is on the material wealth; but, that is not what the story is about . . . the story is about the individual and individual motivation.
Back when sports card collecting was booming, our family got into the collecting craze. The kids and I really got into the collecting . . . and hoarding . . . of sports cards. Of course, Dad—who had all the money, was the kingpin of it all. We are talking about me here. I accumulated a wealth of sports cards and memorabilia . . . I was wealthy, filthy wealthy . . . and, my motivation was to get even more. Hey, this was my future retirement fund we are talking about here. I was the envy of my children and all of their sports card collecting friends.
Value, I learned, is in the eye of the buyer . . . not the seller. A sports card is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it . . . usually, not much. One day it dawned on me that all of my wealth . . . all of my collection . . . was of no use if I did not share it. Oh yeah, at first, I saw it as an opportunity to fill in the gaps of my collection with trades from others—but that was still not real sharing . . . real distributing of the wealth. Then something changed, I started just trading and giving away. I allowed my collection to dwindle . . . to lose value, but at the same time I discovered something more valuable. I could help others and make them happy. I no longer had to worry what would happen if I died tonight even though my retirement fund took a beating!
It is not how much one accumulates that matters in the eyes of God, it is what you do with what you have accumulated. God did not really care how much the guy accumulated, God wanted to know why he didn’t do something with it. So, if that is the case, then when it comes to motivation, can any of us sit back and be content with what we consider enough in our lives? Can we sit back and be passive noting doing anything with what we consider to be our wealth? Is that enough . . . for us? For God?
God calls us out of what we perceive as our wealth . . . out of our “enough” . . . calls us out to do even more than we are doing. Calls us out of our abundance to go forth and do something with what we have . . . because—remember, we all have more than enough. Yeah, we might think that we have nothing in common with the rich man in the story that Jesus is telling, but the fact is we have everything to do with him.
God is telling us that enough is not enough when it comes to loving God completely and doing God’s will. God wants more . . . more peace . . . more justice . . . more love. God wants more compassion . . . more empathy . . . more reconciliation . . . more love. God does not want us to sit back and be satisfied with what we have in our lives, thinking that we have enough. No, God wants us step up and make a difference. What good is anything we have if we were to die tonight?
Over and over again, we affirm that which we believe as the followers of Jesus . . . that it all comes down to relationships. Relationship with God . . . relationships with others. That we are to love the Lord, our God, completely; and, that we are to love others. That is about relationships, and relationships are the greatest wealth any of could ever accumulate. There are never enough relationships. That is what makes a difference in life . . . that is what we remember and makes us smile. It is not what we perceive as being enough . . . that is of no use if it is never used.
How are you going to answer God when that day comes? Did you share your wealth . . . did you share yourself . . . and, did you make a difference in someone else’s life . . . in the world? Enough is never enough when it comes to God’s love. Amen.