In Charles Dickens’s memorable story, “A Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge learns through a series of dreams that life consists of far more important values than his selfish preoccupation with business and finance. In essence, Scrooge learns a lesson that reminds us of Jesus’ sobering question, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Dickens’s story also dovetails well with today’s verse, which reminds us how a temporal focus on greed robs us of an eternal perspective.
People who are enslaved to money-love spend all their time dealing with what is locked into time and space. They overlook and ignore that which has eternal value. Also, such people seem oblivious to the warning that “riches are not forever” (Prov. 27:24) and to the old expression that hearses do not pull trailers.
The Old Testament further instructs us of the fleeting nature of money and material possessions. Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there” (1:21; see also Eccles. 5:15).
Jesus taught the disciples much about how foolish it is to focus on temporal wealth (see Matt. 6:19-21). Perhaps His sternest warning is in the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:15-21). In it God condemns the smug self-confidence the man placed in his abundant crops: “But God said to him, ‘You fool!
This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (vv. 20-21).
A scenario like the rich man’s is much more probable in today’s materialistic societies. Perhaps that’s why Jesus’ parable is still so relevant and a potent reminder that any obsession with temporal riches, which causes us to miss God’s eternal riches, is the height of folly.