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I don’t know about you, but I do have particular favourites among the TV programmes that we get and lately Sunday evenings have been set aside for Poldark, the present series having finished last Sunday One of the central plots being over the entire four seasons we have seen so far, is the enmity between the hero, Ross Poldark, and his arch rival, George Warleggan. Warleggan rarely wins, even when it seems he does. When you look at the travails of Warleggan, we see a man who chases after wealth and status and who readily damages and destroys anyone in his way. Such people in fiction and in real life are common, and like all of these people, the more he climbs the more insecure and lonely he feels. Warleggan fears his wife does not love him, he gets no joy and pleasure out of his position, unless it is hurting others, so he hungers for more wealth and power. As the main character, and Warleggan's chief enemy, Poldark, says in the final episode. "What do you want George? You've taken everything from me!"
We see some of this in Ecclesiastes Ch 7. King Solomon tells of the inhability to enjoy wealth. But how could one not enjoy wealth? It reminds one of the cliché that money cannot buy happiness. In a typical pithy comment coming from him, it was the late Freddie Mercury who said “Many may not buy happiness but it can d*** well give it!” , and there is something to be said for that.
The general theme throughout Ecclesiastes is that “Everything is meaningless”, anything we do has an ending. What is the point of making things? They get broken or lost eventually! Why make wealth, we cannot take it with us? Everything ends? Our daily lives and what we do with the gifts we have, how we handle our relationships of all kinds, the money we accumulate, only makes sense if it is in the service of a greater good. If it is in God’s service and in his love.
And we see this with Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus had wealth, usually through extortion, and tax collectors during the Roman occupation of Israel were known to behave like your stereotypical unpleasant debt collectors. That and aiding and abetting the enemy through their jobs, was why they were hated. Zaccheaus had power, privilege, and wealth, but was probably exceedingly lonely. Christ’s visit to the area must have awakened a need in Zacchaeus that he might not have known he had. Here was someone who pointed him out and treated him like a human being. He did not approve of Zacchaeus’s practices, and Zacchaeus would have known that, if nothing else his conscience was pricked and he would have known his behaviour was not showing love to one’s neighbour. Hence his statement of paying back any money that he wrongfully took!
Money cannot buy happiness but it can give it! Well we do usually make two major mistakes over money, we try and reject it completely, or, far more common, we want more as if we think the more material comforts we have will protect us from the world. Wealth and power is only good and worthwhile if it is used for a greater service. Otherwise it blinds us to justice, it blinds us to the needs of others, and it blinds us to our own genuine needs and wants. We need to keep putting ourselves before God in terms of all our wants and desires, and put those to his service, and if they are not from God, we need to ditch them