From the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 12, verses 13-21: Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But Jesus said to him, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" And he said, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull 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, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."
A friend of the Foundation shared the following devotion on these verses from Luke with us, and we thought other pastors and lay leaders might be interested in using it as many churches begin to focus on connecting money with ministry over the months ahead.
One of the resources God has entrusted to each person is money. This parable clearly portrays the danger of self-delusion that can occur in the use and management of that money. The rich man in the parable was blessed with a farm that produced fine crops to the point the barns were overflowing. Yet the rich man was looking for more security so he built bigger barns for the yield of future harvests.
Was this rich man successful? By all accounts at that time, yes. He had accomplished what most people of his time had only dreamed of. But through this parable Jesus challenges the hearer not to think of oneself, but to recognize that treasures stored in this world are "not rich toward God". Reading the text, note how many times "I" and "me" are used. How easy it is to become infatuated with oneself.
The example of wealth used in this parable has been lived out in many ways in the centuries that followed. In 1871 Mark Twain wrote a piece entitled, "The Revised Catechism". It talked about the hold money can have on a person's life. An excerpt reads as follows:
What is the chief end of man? - to get rich.
In what way? - dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must.
Who is God, the one and only true?
Money is God. Gold and Greenbacks and Stock-
father, son and ghosts of same, three persons in one;
these are the true and only God, mighty and supreme.
The true test of our use of money as a resource entrusted to us is the lifestyle we live. In today's society it is often difficult to answer the question, how much is enough? There is a cultural drive to obtain and accumulate. We are blessed that in the United States and some other countries, this accumulation is possible; yet in many countries it is not. It seems that an abundance of things supports a desire to want and have more. Perhaps this is reflected in a giving pattern that the higher the household income, the less a household is likely to return to God.
What is your vision of enough? Does it include serving God and helping others?
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to clearly see the monetary resources you have entrusted to us. May we discover through our faith how much is enough. May our gratitude for your grace and generosity be reflected in what we return to you. And, may we use these gifts as a tool to serve you and help others. Amen.