"Work, Work, Work" vs. Love
Author: Pastor Mike Gutzler
How long would it take for the rich farmer in today’s reading to get to his point of wealth. In modern day standards, late 40s maybe 50s? It turns out the average life expectancy of a fist century Palestinian is only between 35-40. The rich farmer has come into his wealth and maturity of investments at a much younger age by modern standards.
When I asked the congregation who comes to mind as a rich farmer equivalent today, names like Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg were quick to roll of the tongue. These modern individuals did very well for themselves and are regularly sought after for wealth guidance and advice. Why then would Jesus be so critical?
If you read the rich farmer’s words carefully, you will notice a lot of “I” statements.
"I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'
An element of Jesus’ criticism of the rich farmer is awareness that there no recognition of the ways God or his employees help in his success. There is no mention of raises, bonus, improved living condition for his works, and there is no mention of giving thanks to God for his own resources, mental fortitude or good season.
We may not realize how close we come to the rich farmer. Not only are we too tempted to take full credit for our success and can be slow to recognizing others’ efforts towards or achievements, but we are bigger barn builders too.
We may not have real barns, but we do have the equivalent with a different name: savings. We could call these accounts: retirement, college savings #1, college savings #2, elderly parent needs, etc. The bigger problem we have in our modern context is the fact that we trade time for money to fill each of these barns/accounts at the expense of developing meaningful and lasting relationships. Work, work, work takes the place of face to face conversations and long talks.
When Jesus says: "You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'’ we are reminded that love for God and love for people are always the highest priority in God’s eyes.
There is one final twist to this story as we read it today. Guess how much you need to make a year to be in the top 1% of global wealth? Answer: $32,400. For the vast majority of us, we much closer to identifying with the rich farmer than we realize. This reality changes our perspective. We have a calling to not only help in ways the rich farmer did not, and especially offer our thanks to God on a regular basis, but to be proactive in developing relationships with those who are important to us and to those who are in need of assistance and support.