“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “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. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “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?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12.13-21
It’s one thing to be blessed by God financially, but it’s another thing to worship those finances as if they were God.
This is what I’ve learned from this passage in which Jesus dealing with worldly possessions. The man in the crowds who calls to Jesus to “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me,” is misguided. Jesus replies that he is not the appointed “judge or arbiter” between the brothers. However, he does warn about “all kinds of greed” and that “life does not consist of an abundance of possessions.”
This is a good reminder for us who live in the USA, who have an abundance of possessions. Houses that don’t leak rain, a closet full of clothes, food in the pantry, 401k’s and health insurance to boot. This is not the vast majority of people, even in this country, but it is my condition and the condition of many people I know.
So what do we do with what we have? Do we do like the rich man who had an abundant harvest? He stored up grain for himself, way more than he even needed, and built bigger barns just to store what he needed for years to come. But Lord spoke to the man in this parable saying, “This night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” The point of the message is clear because Jesus says it: “ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
The question then which arises is this — “How do we become rich toward God?” How do we, who have been blessed with extra time, possession, resources or talents, use these to build not our own independent empires of fame, wealth or knowledge — but how do we use them to build God’s Kingdom? How shall we place a value not on personal wealth but holy living? How can we learn to share what God has given us. For the parable is correct, at some point our lives will be demanded (taken) from us and we will die. And then what will happen with the “extras” of what we’ve stored up for ourselves?
I confess, I have way to much and I’m convicted by this teaching. Yet sometimes conviction isn’t enough, action is required. Action demands I give to those in need, share what I have with others, and strive to become rich toward God rather than rich toward this world.
Will you join me in correcting my money appropriations and give generosity for the Kingdom’s sake? Will you offer God back everything he has given you by his grace and for his glory?
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for the abundance but it’s only to be shared with others. Thank you for the hard work of earnings, the blessings you’ve given us, the riches of your Kingdom and the wealth of your Church. Come now, Holy Spirit, teach us how to be generous, to not find attachments in this world and what it has to offer but to find our security and hope in heaven. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen