August 4, 2013 Luke 12:13-21
A Wall Street trader once declared at a graduation ceremony at a major university, “Greed is all right. I want you to know I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself.” Newsweek later commented, “The strangest thing…it was greeted with laughter and applause.”
Greed—an inordinate desire for more, an excessive, unsatisfied hunger to possess—is no laughing matter. God takes greed and its effect on people very seriously. So should we.
In the parable of the rich fool, Jesus uncovered three major mistakes often made by those who value life by their valuables.
They Mistake Time for Eternity
The farmer never saw beyond this world. It never entered his mind that he might not live for many years to come; he talked to his soul as if he were immortal. He was so preoccupied with the temporal that he didn’t bother to consider eternity.
A businessman was granted one wish by a genie. He told the genie he wanted to see the stock market report for a year from that date so he would know ahead of time where to invest and make a killing.
The genie showed the businessman the stock market report for a year away. At first he was excited, but then he froze in fear. On the other side of the page were the obituaries, and his picture was printed there.
People caught within the grip of greed tend to prepare for time, but not for eternity. The truth is that one is not ready to live tomorrow until he or she is ready to die today.
They Mistake the Body for the Soul
The rich man’s perspective on life was on the physical, not spiritual.
We live in a society permeated with an overemphasis on the physical. Marketing strategies from Wall Street to Main Street appeal to our desires for food, fashion and the body’s physical appearance at the expense of due consideration for the soul.
While everybody realizes they are physical beings, they often forget they are spiritual beings. People spend many hours and dollars pampering and exercising their physical bodies, but they neglect life’s spiritual dimension.
They Mistake what Is God’s for what Is Theirs
We all have heard the ultimate wisdom concerning wealth: “You can’t take it with you. No one’s ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul.” The often asked question concerning wealthy people who have died is, “How much did he leave behind?” The only accurate answer is, “Everything!”
At the heart of this third error is the confusion between ownership and stewardship. All that we are and all that we have belongs to God. It is not ours to own; but it is ours on loan. Our responsibility on earth is to manage what is rightfully God’s. Consequently, everything must be held loosely.
Corrie Ten Boom used to say in her broken English, “I have learned I must hold everything loosely, because when I grip it tightly, it hurts when the Father pries my fingers loose and takes it from me!”
Jesus ended His parable with another warning, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). It seems Jesus was contrasting two types of people: those who store up things for themselves—those caught within the grip of greed; and those who are rich toward God—those who have released their grip on greed.
Our wealth is not found in our net worth. Our wealth already has been determined by God. We are of such value that God’s Son died on a cross for our sins. If we want to release the grip of greed, then we need come to understand our value comes from God, not from the things we own or possess.
When we store up things for ourselves, we pay a price of dissatisfaction, anxiety and death. When we are rich toward God, we receive the benefits of heaven, peace on earth and life everlasting.