“And he said, this I will do; I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee…” St. Luke 12:18-20
Sometimes you hear people preach on the subject of wealth as if being rich and powerful were a sin in itself. Especially when the words of Jesus are thrown in that say it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go to heaven, it begins to look like you should not aspire to be rich, or to enjoy the influence and power that may come with your riches.
At other times you encounter men of God preaching about wealth as if nothing else in life matters. They refer you to the book of Malachi where you may see the words that if you challenged God by giving him a tenth of your every earning, he would bless you with so much your barns would not be able to store it all. In other words you will become a rich person, and you may in turn begin to focus on building a bigger barn to accommodate your bountiful harvests that you forget the principles that helped you in the first place, or the person who blessed you.
That is where the problem is hinged. I have been thinking recently of all the people that have lost their lives in the last few years, from Iraq, through Afghanistan to Kenya, from Ivory Coast, through Libya to Nigeria. The bottom line of the reasons so many have lost their lives is that some leaders who have had their chances to make a difference but did not do so, leaders who have accumulated so much wealth for themselves want more, leaders who have enjoyed so much power are intoxicated by it that they cannot let go. That is the sum of it. In Igbo land we have a saying: “Whatever a person does, let him remember death.” This is in effect what Jesus says in the passage I have quoted from the book of St. Luke.
As Muammar Gaddafi holds on to power in Libya, does he give a thought to how Saddam Hussein ended up? As northern Nigeria burns and people kill in the name of Muhammadu Buhari, why is he stoking the fire, saying he will challenge the results of the election? Many have already died for him, and when he loses his challenge, as he will, many more will die. Why can he not accept that he has lost, and persuade his supporters not to shed any more blood. Buhari has had a go in the past as Nigeria’s head of state. What more does he want now? What more can he give? It is that intoxication of wealth and power. Does he remember how Sani Abacha ended up?
Sadly, these errors of grabbing as if life on earth is forever is mistake so many people make even outside the political arena. It is the case with a lot of churches where the pastors put their accumulation of wealth over the spiritual wellbeing of their congregants. It is the case with a lot of business people who focus on making as much profit as possible in as such little time as possible, so that they may have an instant and eventual life of plenty, but they forget one thing, not even with all the wealth in the world could they live a day longer than God has decreed.
May God give us all the grace to seek his kingdom and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33), and if it is His will, he shall grant us all the wealth and power we need, and such riches and powers that come from God will never be tainted with the blood of the innocent, but will bless our people and cast our names in stone, and we shall never be forgotten.
God bless you.
Nnorom Okezie Azuonye