Faithlife Sermons

Proper 13


Fickenscher’s summary: Faith in Christ Is Rich toward God

To live for earthly things “is vanity and a striving after wind,” and work that is driven by such vanity “is an unhappy business” (Eccl. 1:13–14). The man who lives like that has nothing to show for “all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun … all his days are full of sorrow” (Eccl. 2:22–23). So, too, your “covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5), makes a god out of that which cannot give you life or happiness. For “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). But “Christ who is your life” (Col. 3:4), in giving you Himself, gives you all the wealth of heaven. Instead of striving to lay up treasures for yourself, be “rich toward God” in Him (Luke 12:21).
Ecc 1.2, 12-14, 2.18-33
Ecclesiastes 1:2 RSVCE
Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
Ecclesiastes 1:12–14 RSVCE
I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.
Ecclesiastes 2:18 RSVCE
I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me;
notes: TOTC calls this section "The failure of secularism" so if you subtract God out of the equation, then no matter how skilled one is, not matter how much money or pleasure one has, even good things like hard work, without God it is meaningless. 12-14 says that although the Teacher applied himself to "explore by means of wisdom everything that is done under heaven" it is just something to keep them busy, this search not only finds out that all is futile but the search itself is futile and meaningless. And 2.18-23 is about the futility of work. Because you have to leave everything (first wealth is mentioned) to others, and we can't guarantee that they'll wisely make use of those means, that is futile and meaningless. Even beyond money, to "work wisely with knowledge and skill" "pain and grief" and "anxiety" you leave it to people after you're gone.
Psa 49.1-12
Psalm 49:1–12 RSVCE
Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together! My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding. I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre. Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me, men who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Truly no man can ransom himself, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of his life is costly, and can never suffice, that he should continue to live on for ever, and never see the Pit. Yea, he shall see that even the wise die, the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes for ever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they named lands their own. Man cannot abide in his pomp, he is like the beasts that perish.
notes: The weekly (Thur-Wed) theme above is broad enough that it can cover things like "don't think that you can prevent death by wealth" here, using the Gospel as the central text, is "don't let wealth keep you from God" or "if you're going to be rich be rich in your relationship with God." That's not a suggestion but is a non-negotiable starting place. Ecclesiastes shows that wealth, even wisdom, knowledge, skill, hard work, none of it makes any sense without putting God first. And Colossians doesn't have to connect, but it kind of does since having priorities wrong means we will be tied down to the things of this earth, worldly things, lust, greed, malice, etc.
Col 3.1-11
Colossians 3:1–11 RSVCE
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.
notes: These eleven verses are two sections, seek the things above and put away the sins of the past. We focus on Christ and on the things above, the heavenly things are so much better than the earthly things. And many earthly things are fleshly and sinful things. That is clear from verse 5. There are two lists of these fleshly sinful things, the first sexual sins (the first four) and greed. In the second list are sins of the heart and mouth, our attitude toward others. The new life is there, put to death all the bad things.
Luk 12.13-21
Luke 12:13–21 RSVCE
One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” And he said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘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; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
notes: The parable of the rich fool (the folly of preoccupation with possessions) We don't know this man's situation, but to today's generation, isn't it fully in the right of the brother who spoke to Jesus to ask for/demand his share of the property? That by itself isn't greed. So Jesus must have known something in this man's heart, that he wasn't rich toward God.
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