The Illusion of Monopoly
Johnny enjoyed visiting his grandmother. During the summer his grandmother and he would oftentimes play Monopoly. She was very good at the game. Every time without fail, Johnny’s grandmother would handily defeat him. She always told him that the key to winning Monopoly was to acquire every single piece of property on the board, and take every penny of your opponent without mercy. She said you must work until you take the last white, one dollar bill of Monopoly money from them. And using this method she sent Johnny into bankruptcy time after time.
One summer Johnny decided that he was going to work and practice at playing Monopoly until he could finally beat his grandmother. He played Monopoly all summer long with friends and family until he became a veritable Monopoly cut-throat.
At the end of the summer Johnny visited his grandmother. His long awaited comeback in Monopoly was about to begin. They began to play and Johnny was holding his own. After a few of hours Johnny began to get the upper hand on his grandmother. Without winking, as he was taught, property by property and bill by bill, he began to drive his grandmother into financial oblivion. He bought every piece of property on the game board and hoarded an enormous amount of Monopoly money. Finally, he forced the last Monopoly bill from his grandmother’s account. He was victorious! He had a monopoly!
Just then his grandmother said to him, “You have worked hard to learn to play this game. You beat me fair and square. You own the entire game board.” She continued, “But there is one more lesson that I want to teach you about this game, Johnny. You worked hard to acquire all the property and money you could get, but now the game is over. Now, all of this stuff that you have acquired must go back into the box.”
It isn’t hard to understand the moral of the story. I think it is best illustrated by the parable of the rich man of Luke 12:16-20.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I 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: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
Many people work very hard at acquiring goods and treasures for this life, yet are impoverished and destitute of treasures in heaven. We must constantly remember that the treasures that we lay up in this world will one day “go back into the box.” There were Monopoly players before Johnny, and certainly would be after him. Nevertheless, all of the players without exception, at the end of the game, would be required to put it all back into the box. And so with us. No matter what material goods we acquire, we will be required to surrender them at the end of our game. Many came before; many will doubtlessly come after. None kept the goods. It all returned to the box.
Now, take a peek at verses 15 and 21 in the same chapter:
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
I will leave you with three verses: 1 Timothy 6:9-11. Before you read them, take note of the simple phrase “they that will be rich…” Most of us will never be rich in the popular sense of the word. Our greatest problem is not in being rich but rather in desiring, and therefore seeking to be rich, to the peril of our souls, and the lives of those around us. In place of that let us follow what our Lord Jesus Christ exemplified and commanded for our good: But thou, O man of God…
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.