Today’s texts offer instruction and encouragement for all who are occasionally overwhelmed by the “unhappy business” of life. Jesus urges us to take care and be on guard against all kinds of greed. We who have died with Christ in holy baptism have also been raised with him and are encouraged to elevate our thinking, seeking the “things that are above.” To that end we seek the sustenance of the Lord’s supper and the encouragement of God’s word.
Readings and Psalm
- Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23
Search out wisdom, for all is vanity
- Psalm 49:1-12
My mouth shall speak of wisdom. (Ps. 49:3)
- Colossians 3:1-11
Clothed in Christ, your life is hidden with him in God
- Luke 12:13-21
Jesus says: Be on guard against greed; be rich toward God, your treasure
Dying to be Rich
“All is vanity and a chasing after wind,” says Ecclesiastes, yet we chase wealth like it will last forever, forgetting that we ourselves will one day die and that everything we have stored up here will be useless to us. Into the tragedy of our human drive to be rich in possessions, even at the cost of being poor in everything else, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool. It is first told to brothers squabbling over an inheritance, and now it is told to us, some of us squabbling with our relatives or neighbors over wealth and possessions. The rich fool, despite his great wealth, is poor in every other way, eating alone, and even dying alone. In Jesus’ depiction of this fool our own sinful hearts are exposed. We too vainly chase after even more, sacrificing right relationship with God and neighbor in the process. Death comes to the rich fool when he least expects it, as it must come to all of us. How, then, are we to be “rich toward God”? Paul reminds the Colossian Christians of their own unexpected deaths in the waters of baptism: “you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” In baptism we are joined to Christ’s death, and we are to be dead to all foolish chasing after more possessions. We have died, not alone, but with Christ. Our lives now are hidden with Christ in God, and in Christ we share a fortune of true riches that also are good for our neighbors. Death will come, but our treasure is already secure. By faith we have acquired abounding riches above, and by faith we are freed from storing up treasures for ourselves here on earth.