Sondra Ely Wheeler: Mortality and Accountability

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And He told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21

“In the Parable of the Rich Fool there are two kinds of appeal. One, the common-sense appeal, is acknowledged (at least fitfully) by all, and is expressed by in the popular proverb, “you can’t take it with you”…The other appeal concerns the possibility and obligation of being “rich toward God,” and the expectation of being called into account. It must be borne in mind, however, that the rich man who deliberates and chooses his course without regard for both his mortality and his accountability is called not evil but a fool (literally “mindless one”). What unites these disparate appeals here and throughout the chapter, and makes union intelligible, is Jesus own reality perspective.”

Sondra Ely Wheeler in Wealth as Peril and Obligation: The New Testament on Possessions (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995) 66. I hope you are enjoying this current series of quotes from books I expose to my students.

It’s a privilege to team teach Faith and Finances again at Asian Theological Seminary with Mr. Anjji Gabriel, the executive director of CCTA. He served with PricewaterhouseCoopers for 31 years as a CPA (he likes to refer to his credential as “Christian Professional Accountant” rather than the common “Certified Public Accountant),  and now helps Christ-centered churches and organizations with matters of financial accountability and transparency. In plain terms, he helps them put their house in order.

Many individuals and organizations do not have their house in order. Like the rich fool, many people live with little regard to their mortality and as if they will never have to demonstrate any accountability. Because life is short and eternity is long, it makes sense that Jesus would exhort us to prepare for eternity rather than settle comfortably here. While I may know a lot about what the Scriptures teach on money, Anjji’s presence with me in the classroom is incalculable linked to his knowledge of the Filipino context. We are partners.

For example, yesterday we discussed this text with our students. We gave thanks that God supplies fruitfully when we put land to work. We said that we must not listen to self-talk but seek the Scriptures and do what the Word says when we get blessed with abundance. Here Jesus teaches us to share richly, lest we be relieved of our distribution duties. With his gray hairs and spiritual maturity (they call him Kuya Anjji, which translates something like Elder Anjji), he’s the perfect partner for teaching the “reality perspective” of Jesus.

Today, after class we have an historic dinner that celebrates our partnership at an organizational level. While the relationship between the Philippines and the USA runs deep back to the World War II days, CCTA and ECFA will sign an MOU celebrating our official partnership in accountability. When ministries have their house in order, it positions them for tremendous kingdom fruitfulness. Pray for me as I make remarks and desire to be a blessing to about 60 pastors, ministry administrators, accountants and other professionals.