My pastor spoke on Sunday from Ecclesiastes 5. His sermon was about a Christian approach to wealth and he pointed out that while very few of us would consider ourselves to be wealthy, we all have so much more than the average person in this world. Americans, even Americans who are teachers and live in two bedroom town homes with five other people and a basset hound, are extremely blessed.
It was an excellent message, but one thing that he said stood out to me more than anything else. He was talking about how Solomon goes on from his discussion of wealth to a sort of “case study” of a man who made wealth the most important thing in life. It didn’t turn out well: when all was said and done, no one mourned for the man when he was gone. Loving money is a rotten investment because it will never love us back. My pastor said that we should seek to leave a legacy instead of a fortune and He referenced Matthew 6:33. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Then he said the words I can’t seem to get out of my head, “For eternal riches, try switching kingdoms.”
It’s a simple suggestion, but extremely powerful. This world is so much with us, so demanding, so distracting, so scary and threatening and tempting and tantalizing, but it is also temporary. Laying up treasure in the heavenly kingdom requires walking away from the earthly one, and here I am again, back in Hebrews 11: “If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return; instead they were longing for a better country, a heavenly one.” Eternal riches or temporary wealth, it’s not really much of a choice.