Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Jesus tells His disciples a parable to illustrate His point that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” A man had a problem: his land, from which he derived his livelihood, was producing so many crops that he had run out of room to store it all! Not a bad problem to have. How could he solve this problem? Well, his solution was to say “I need more room to store all my stuff, so I’ll build bigger barns.” But he didn’t stop there. We get insight into his attitude regarding his wealth when he says “Ah, I have everything I need for many years – now I can live the good life!” Notice that the man uses pronouns referring to himself at least 12 times in just 3 sentences. He clearly has the attitude that all that he owns belongs to him, and that it all should be used for his enjoyment. Jesus didn’t condemn him for wanting to build bigger barns, but He strongly condemned him for his attitude toward his abundance. In essence God said “So you think that all this belongs to you, and that you’re in control of it? No! When you die, which could be tonight, not only will someone else get what you thought was yours, but your so-called ‘good life’ will have been meaningless.”
So what should our attitude be toward our resources? Jesus ends this passage by telling us: “be rich toward God, not just toward yourself.” That is both the antidote to greed and the prescription for living a truly meaningful life. But what does it mean to be rich toward God? Later in this chapter (verse 34) Jesus tells His disciples that their heart will be wherever their wealth is. So if our wealth is on this earth, our heart will be here too. But if our wealth is in heaven, as a result of us using our time, energy, and resources to advance God’s kingdom, our hearts will be focused on heaven as well. And we all know that where our hearts are focused, our time, energy, and wealth will follow. It’s a virtuous circle that God uses to encourage us to a life of real meaning and consequence.
- How am I guarding myself against ‘all forms of greed’? This can be a real blind spot for most of us, so accountability with someone else is crucial here.
- How am I doing about being ‘rich toward God’? In context, this isn’t about our prayer life or our Bible study or our relationships with others – this is about our resources, particularly our possessions and wealth.
Today’s devotional was prayed over and prepared by Jimmy Wiggs, Elder