Over 300 years ago there was a French play called “The Embarrassment of Riches”. The year was 1706. This comedy sketch was one of the first public rumblings of what had been a private discussion behind closed doors across many classes of people in Europe. It’s a discussion that you and I must revisit. I first stumbled onto this play title listening to Richard Sennet’s book called The Craftsman. I would strongly urge you to give it a listen.
Later in that century, the first wave of what has now become known as The Industrial Revolution began to crash against the shores of cultures and change their landscapes. Fast forward to 2015, and Klaus Schwab has presented an article in the magazine “Foreign Affairs” titled “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution“. It’s a solid read with warnings and obstacles that we all should consider.
What will this wave bring to our cultural landscape?
Will it catch us unawares?
The Embarrassment of Riches – not comedy
While comedy has its place in creating a constructive dialogue about this topic of “The Embarrassment of Riches” it’s evident in our world today that this is no laughing matter. It is claiming lives and enslaving them to joyless existence – stripping them of their value and worth. More importantly, is this new industrial revolution yet another attempt for man to discover and expand his potential and capabilities apart from God – The Master Craftsman of everything and everyone.
I mention these things because this is the world we live in today, where an increasing number of folks are beginning to not so privately acknowledge that they are frustrated, harassed to the point of feeling helpless. What will curb this growing bent towards skepticism for almost everything and everyone? These once private invasions of our sacred spaces have developed into public rumblings – and rightfully so.
The #metoo movement, which emerged out of the gross realities of sexual harassment, child sex trafficking, our modern-day rape culture, and more… has brought all of us to a peculiar vantage point. From here, I hope it’s not too difficult for us all to see that our lives have become victim to an eerily similar type of “social harassment” that is subjecting many of us to a forceful pillaging of anything and everything sacred.
The Embarrassment & The Backlash
Take for example the modern term “Social Entrepreneurship” which has become a mark of the millennial generation. This is a backlash from a younger generation, wishing to generate positive change in our world today. We see this in the world of business, as young entrepreneurs are launching “mission-based” companies because they are fighting for a cause – a change that they believe needs to happen in the world that has both social and economic bottom lines.
I believe we have come to a prophetic point in our time – it has become far too easy to view things as disposable, worthless, damaged goods, and of decreasing value. This is not reality created by the Master Craftsman, for God sees great value in all of mankind and His creation. The Master Craftsman has created each of us in His own image. He longs to see us reveal and display the beauty for which we were created. He desires to see us fulfill that which He created us for. And it grieves His heart to see that which He created instead enslaving and subjecting itself and others to the evil one – who seeks only to steal, kill and destroy. Like the light of a new day, which comes up with a humble gate yet with bold unrelenting intent – it is time to hear the song which awakens the dawn.
The embarrassment of Riches & The Prophecy
Deep in the heart of the biblical narrative lies dormant this promise embedded in the book of Jeremiah. These words sing to our day, like the morning sun coming up over the dark and misty mountains of industry, culture, and technology, shedding light on the objects of our making. Yet at the same time, these words remind us that the evil one will continue to drag the ones he has enslaved further and further away from the Maker to be kept in the shadows. The evil one will seek to keep us in the darkness and convince us that these things which are hands have made are not worthless, they do create much profit, and that what our fathers have discovered and passed onto us is “foundational” truth which we should continue to build on.
O Lord, my strength and my stronghold, my refuge in the day of trouble, to you shall the nations come from the ends of the earth and say: “Our fathers have inherited nothing but lies, worthless things in which there is no profit. Can man make for himself gods? Such are not gods! Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might, and they shall know that my name is the Lord. ” [Jeremiah 16:19-21]
In Master Craftsman’s economy, He doesn’t operate by our current value of “more for less”. He does not create cheap, nor does he find creative ways to exploit the harassed and helpless to cut costs. Cheap is never normal nor expected in what He designs and brings forth. Each one of us has intrinsic worth because of who has created us and we have value because He created each of us with intention, purpose, and priority.
We must remind ourselves daily of the glorious Gospel revealed in Jesus Christ – which proclaims to us that we as people are not cheap, disposable things which only exist to be used up, exploited, and tossed in a landfill. Nor should we succumb to the worldview that seeks to dominate us and convince us that this is true. The evil one will seek to take advantage of you in your slumber, but The Master Craftsman daily sends out His light and His truth to awaken us to our true value and worth.
In the Master Craftsman’s workshop, there is no “Embarrassment of Riches”. By His Word, He has forged a masterpiece creation, that for eternity He will continue to reveal and redeem. Therefore, it will continuously display glory upon glory that is incorruptible and everlasting. A treasure where there is no rust or decay and no moth can destroy. He brings forth the “Assurance of Glory” not the “Embarrassment of Riches”.
The Embarrassment & Our Call To Action
Do not give yourself to these “Foreign Affairs” for they only seek to rape and pillage us. We are the beautiful works of God. We must repent and return to the Master Craftsman. He is the maker of all things beautiful, and we are instruments in the hands of a redeemer! He desires that all display His Glory for which He created them. Woe to us who arouse the jealous love of the Master Craftsman. We cannot continuing to subject ourselves or others to these foreign exploiters. But blessed are those who return to the workshop of the Master Craftsman. We must learn from Him the intention, purpose, and priority that He has placed on each of our lives.
Do you struggle with the embarrassment of riches in our time? Is your business working to create true value that fights against our current throwaway culture? Are your products or services creating a heritage and wealth that is valued for generations? The Master Crafted is passionate about raising the awareness of artistry and craftsmanship in the works of our hands. Are you looking to create these kinds of products and services in your business? Click the link below and schedule a time that works best for you. We would love to hear your business ideas and see how we might be able to help.