Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-23
Twenty-two years ago when I started my career in education the most common line I heard from well-meaning friends and family members was, “but you’re smart. You can make much more money if you get a different job.” They were probably right about the the difference in income, but there is no guarantee; I likely would not have been as passionate about any other job. Passion and dedication makes a huge difference in success in any area. Today’s passages remind us to focus on those things that are important and eternal.
The author of Ecclesiastes laments that a lifetime of work comes to nothing at death. His search for wisdom and understanding also meant nothing for him beyond his life. He realizes that the profits accumulated over a life would be enjoyed by the heirs who had not spent the time and work to appreciated the gain. If one leaves with the views of the author, no effort in life is worth the outcome.
Fortunately, we have the epistle and Gospel to help us reframe the view of our life’s work. The writer of Ecclesiastes is right in that the wealth of a human life means nothing at the conclusion of that life, but when we work on spiritual gain we have profits that mature on death.
The passages about heavenly treasure always prove among the most difficult to fully understand. The cautions against greed are explicit and fit clearly into the rest of the Gospel message. Placing a value on heavenly rewards, though, challenges the cautions against wealth. Other scriptures promise that an eternity with God is the reward we gain by our faith in Christ.
The vague notion of “treasures in heaven” strikes me in much the same way those well-intentioned friends did when they suggested a different career for more money. Some things we do in life, we do because they are the right things to do. We do them because they are what we are called to do. Focusing on the directions from Christ on how to live may be the way to deposit value into a heavenly saving account, but I have found it also improves my quality of life now.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org