In the 21st century we have more “things” living in America than most of the world’s population ever dreamed of. The poorest of our poor have more than many people, save perhaps our homeless. It’s simply astounding that in the richest countries of the world there are still homeless people wandering and living on our streets.
In this country more food is thrown away every day, unused but not unusable, than many people see in their lifetime. And a lot of us think we have it tough.
Waste has become second nature to us. We are so privileged (to use a word that has become more negative than positive)(blessed might be a better word) we have forgotten what it’s like to do without, to really be poor. Most young people today don’t know what it means to be poor, really poor, let alone destitute. They don’t know any thing else. They’ve been born into and brought up in a world of high-speed Internet, cell phones, instant messaging, and a way of life that is only make-believe in a lot of countries.
And it’s not their fault. We’ve allowed our youth to be rushed head-first into a society that puts “me first” without teaching them the responsibility of being truly productive members of society. We have forgotten how to be content with what we have. Fortunately there are young people who “get it” and have recognized the failings of a self-centered life-style and the dead end to which it leads.
Our Lord was teaching when someone in the crowd around Him said “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” (Luke 12:13ff)
The fact is, the man was most likely not the eldest son and was not going to receive a “lions share” of the inheritance if any at all. Jesus recognized the motive in the man’s question: “Man, who made Me a judge or arbiter between you?” Then He warned the crowd: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
I’m a gadget guy; I like gadgets and tools and hardware to a fault. I worked in hardware and lumber a lot of years in my life, and I was at the front of the line when the monthly deals came out, which with employee discounts made hand tools and gadgets less than half price, sometimes less than cost! Then as I learned Internet and computer technology and networking, I became a digital gadget guy! Over the years I spent way too much money on “things” until I realized that “things” bring only short-time happiness and I didn’t need to have the latest and greatest and most recent version of anything.
So we have this story as told by Jesus:
16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17He 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. 19And 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.”
There is nothing wrong with owning “things.” We all need some things to live and work and exist. It’s our attitude, our motivation for having things that can become the problem. Things become an idol; we put way too much importance on things, and more, we take too much pride in owning them. And if things worry us (what if someone steals it?)(what if it breaks?)(I can’t let it out of my sight.) then we put too much importance on them.
Jesus went on to say we are more important than the birds for which God feeds and provides shelter; we are more important than the flowers which are here today and wither tomorrow; we cannot change one thing by worrying – so why do it?
God knows what you need before you need it. There’s no second guessing, no surprises, no unexpected situations that will catch Him off-guard. He’s got you covered.
32“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Things are just things. If we are willing to give them all up knowing that God can provide, will provide, does provide, we may look poor to some people, but we will have eternal riches.