Hosea 11:1-11; Psalm 107:1-9, 43; (or Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 18-23; Psalm 49:1-11); Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21
“Cast aside those who liken godliness to whimsy and who try to combine their greed for wealth with their desire for a happy afterlife.” – Kahlil Gibran
How might our lives be different if we had less stuff? Two out of every ten Americans have surplus possessions in storage. (Readers from other countries can speak for themselves.) Jesus warns us against greed (Luke 12:15) (see Greek below); and then he exemplifies it with a parable of a man who has so much that he needs to build bigger barns. The story ends by saying in effect that he can’t take it with him when he dies (Luke 12:20). What are we filling our barns with? Jesus is telling us that life is not about storing up as many nuts as possible for a better winter. So what is the alternative? Could Jesus possibly be saying that we should not have possessions, should not save for retirement, should not enjoy the material world? Hardly! Remember that his admonition here is only against covetousness. That could mean wanting more than our share at the expense of others, while others suffer severe want and homelessness. Greed is a kind of fear, yielding only sorrow and worry. The simpler we live our lives the easier it might be to value what really counts. That brings us to Jesus’ alternative: be “rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21) What is that? Scan the teachings of Jesus and we see it is things such as compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and above all love. That is being rich toward God. Our wealth is in what we value. We value God by valuing each other. This we can take with us when we die.
Before Jesus tells his parable of the man building bigger barns he gives the point of the story in Luke 12:15 when he says beware of “covetousness.” It is informative for understanding to see the various ways this Greek word is translated. Here are a few: covetousness, greed, avarice, ruthless greed, a grasping with no regard for others. The essence of this Greek word is to have more than one’s share.
Nuts stashed safe away.
Life not found buried in hoard.
Wealth toward God alive.