I’m sure we all remember being in school and going back to school. But as kids, we would beg our parents for a new wardrobe, new shoes, new technology, new everything. But when we obtained all these material possessions we would only be satisfied until the newest trends popped up a week later. Then the cycle would begin again. More, more, more. So, as we begin to look at our reading from this morning, I want you to think about the pile of once trendy clothes that you began to accumulate while you continued to seek things that were bigger and better.
Let us take a step back and look at the reading from the gospel of Luke.
Jesus has a large crowd of people around him and He was teaching them about loving others as yourself, the Kingdom of God, and healing them of their illnesses.
During His teaching, a man stood up whose own concerns were most important to him got the attention of Jesus, and said “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
There is a place for everything, surely this is not the time the request should have been made to Jesus by this man. Jesus answered him” man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?
Jesus then told the crowd “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.
Can wealth buy happiness? Jesus tells the parable of the rich man with an abundant harvest. In this story, the rich man believed everything he has accomplished or own is of his hard work and own accomplishment. Not once did he give thanks to God for this abundance or even consider sharing his wealth with the poor. It is all about him. But God said to him fool! Tonight, your soul will be required of you.
Is this rich man greedy? Greed is defined as a selfish and excessive desire for more of something such as money or possessions than is needed.
Ok, is the desire for more of something that is needed a bad thing? Do we not all want to have abundance? At some of our jobs, we contribute to a pension fund, some even contribute to 401k,457, or any other retirement system plus the pension for the time of retirement.
Let me be clear, being rich is not a bad thing and our faith is not against anybody getting rich or acquiring wealth.
Therefore, for someone to be rich or someone who is preparing for a rainy day by being financially responsible is not what causes Jesus to call us fools.
Being rich is not a problem, it is the way we treat our abundance and that is what matters to God. It is the excessive desire for oneself that becomes greed. The temptation we face as human beings is to measure our lives by the stuff we own, by the size of our homes or bank account and we forget how to praise God for the gift he has given us. In God’s eyes what matter is how we use our wealth and influence to benefit the needy in our society.
Paul tells us today to set our minds on things above, and not on things on earth. Our worldly possessions don’t follow us into eternity. So, instead, we should focus on cultivating a relationship with God and using worldly possessions for His purposes to prepare for eternity instead. Paul compares greediness to idolatry. Greed destroys our peace. Greed destroys our relationships with others.
How many of us live this way?
We need to be rich towards God. For we are accountable to God for all the possessions and gifts He has given us. God has given us these possessions, not for the sake of simply providing our daily bread but because He gives us more than we need for our daily bread. So, for what purpose has He given us these things but to use them to help other people?
Paul said you have been raised with Christ. Brothers and sisters that’s God’s greatest gift for you and me. By believing just in that phrase, you are rich. You are wealthy, and that treasure can not be taken from you.
The fact is we need to be rich towards God. What does it mean to you this week to be rich towards God?
Reading the passages for this morning and I was pondering what it means to be rich towards God. Two video clips that were sent to me by my friends got my attention.
The first one is the conversation between Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson from the movie the bucket list. Morgan Freeman asked Jack Nicholson these two questions that I want you to think about: have you found joy in your life? Morgan then asked him has your life brought joy to others?
The second clip is the story of four candles:
The first candle said:
I am Peace; The world is full of anger and fighting. Nobody can keep me lit. then the flame of peace went out completely.
The second candle said:
I am faith! I am no longer indispensable. It does not make sense that I stay lit another moment. Just then a breeze softly blew Faith’s flame.
The third candle began to speak:
I am love! People do not understand my importance, so they simply put me aside. They even forget to love those who are nearest to them. And waiting no longer Love’s flame went out.
Suddenly a child entered the room and saw the three candles unlit. The child asked the candles why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit till the end. Saying this the child began to cry:
Then the fourth candle answered, do not be afraid, I am hope while I am still burning, we can light the other candles, with shining eyes the child took this candle of hope and lit the other candle.
With hope in Jesus Christ, each of us can live with Peace, Faith, and Love.
Paul made it clear to love one another because we are all raised with Christ. Today’s readings are like our readings several weeks ago in that in Christ we are one. Regardless of a political party, race, occupation, background, or even what sports team you support. We are all one in Christ
Isn’t it beautiful to know that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior? And because we know this, we can work towards preparing for the day when we see him again instead of solely focusing on our worldly desires.
Brothers and sisters like we leave behind the seemingly never-ending trail of trends, we will soon have to leave behind all material possessions at the end of our lives. What impact has your life made on others?
We have no option but to leave everything we labored for the cars, buildings, academic achievements, and acquired power will be left behind. This is the fact of life.
So, has your life brought joy to others? Do you seek from the correct source, our Savior Lord Jesus Christ?
As Paul tells us “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”