Our children are grown and gone now, but almost ten summers ago we had the privilege of having our son home for the summer after he completed his freshman year of college. This is the son who now is a father of one and is awaiting child number two any day. He’s in the ministry serving on staff of a church in Charlotte.
One of the things we’ve missed when he was away in college was the crowd he brought home with him. It was not unusual to have four or five guys spend the night at the last minute, or pop in to watch a ballgame. One evening, a late night game of Monopoly developed that lasted into the early morning hours.
Jonathan somehow developed a knack for Monopoly. He’s heartless. His competition used words like ruthless and cutthroat. He’s mastered the art of monopolizing. He’s out to win, and he’s good at it.
Bob Russell shared a story about the time his family played Monopoly on vacation one night. Everything went his way. The first time around the board he landed on Illinois Avenue and Park Place. The next time around he got Indiana and Kentucky Avenues. He bought Boardwalk and soon owned all four railroads.
He was able to put houses and hotels on every street. His family members would stop on one of his properties, and he’d smirk, “That’s $400!” or “That’s $800!” He kept accumulating cash and deeds and hotels.
About 1 a.m., the players went bankrupt and dropped out. Russell had finally won it all. They got up from the table and, without one word of congratulations, went to bed.
Russell stated, “Wait, someone needs to put the game away.” They kept walking away and said, “That’s your reward for winning.”
And there he sat. Loaded with money, hotels, deeds, properties and victory, but he sat alone. He picked it all up and placed it back in the box, closed the lid and went upstairs to a cool reception.
As he lay in the darkness, he remembered what James Dobson shared as he compared life to a game of Monopoly. We work hard to accumulate things. We try to impress people who end up resenting us. We spend our energy to build riches, and then when life is over, someone puts us in a box and closes the lid. Then suddenly, the dollar bills, deeds and properties don’t matter.
We live in a materialistic society that ingrains in us that life is all about the salary you make and the possessions you have. Jesus challenged that approach when he told the story about the rich farmer who had such a great harvest that he ran out of storage space. He decided to tear down his barns and build even bigger barns. That sounds wise from the world’s perspective, but he made the mistake of presuming that he’d be around to live a life of ease.
In the story, God called him a fool because the man put more trust in his stuff than he did in God, and he centered his life around himself rather than the Lord. Jesus said, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.”
Isn’t it amazing how many folks never get it? The believer lives in two worlds. We reside on earth, but our citizenship is in heaven, and we constantly fight the tension between the two. Therefore, we should be driven by the spiritual rather than the worldly.
The farmer in Jesus’s story thought he was rich, but he was a spiritual pauper because he was not rich towards God. Who is rich towards God? The person who is ready to meet Jesus at any time, who is grateful for what he or she has, who lives generously and is willing to share, who depends on God and not himself or herself.
Does he who dies with the most toys really win? No, he who dies with the most toys still dies, and then what?
Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville. The church family meets at 352 McDonough Road and invites you to join them this Sunday for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. Visit them on the web at www.mcdonoughroad.org. and like them on Facebook.