“But God said to him, “Fool, tonight you will die. Now who will get the things you have prepared for yourself? This is the way it will be for those who hoard things for themselves and aren’t rich toward God.” Luke 12:20-21 (CEB)
The rich man was called a fool for building bigger barns and storing more and more of his crop. In the parable Jesus told about the rich man, he warned his listeners to be on guard against greed. Nowhere does it say that he told his followers not to have things, only that it is what we do with them and where our priorities lie that matters.
As my husband and I approach retirement in 2017, we are reminded of the abundance of “stuff” we have accumulated over the years. Last spring, we started the process of reducing the volumes of books we both have stashed on our shelves and weeding through clothing we haven’t worn for years. (Of course, I had to finally decide to give my variety of sizes that I had on the hangers away for someone else to use and just keep the size I am wearing now!)
It’s amazing how little impact our down-sizing has had in the parsonage! This brought home to me – once again – the whole idea of how materialism grabs us and hangs on. Things become so important, and we begin to fill up our shelves and our houses with the newest electronics, the latest appliances, updated furniture, and so forth. What are we trying to fill? Why do we need so much stuff?
Maybe the hardest question is: What emptiness is inside that we need to fill it with things? Jesus clearly states in the passage above that God comes first. God is where we begin. My husband has said for as long as I have known him that, “They are just things.” Even my sister quoted him when their basement was flooded, and they lost a lot of their possessions. So, why is it so hard to remember that when it comes to shopping or accumulating?
I guess we all have to answer that question from our own perspective, and for me, I need to remind myself that it isn’t the material goods that make my life fulfilled, but people who enrich my life with friendship and love. These are the gifts of God that truly matter, and most of all, the love of God is the foundation for my life. The things I own are disposable and not supposed to be my priority – I’m doing pretty well with that, too! (At least, I’m getting there!)
Let us fill ourselves up with the things that matter: relationships with God and others, love for God and our neighbor, caring for the poor and sick, and living life to the best of our ability as followers of Jesus, keeping our focus on what his example and teachings are telling us.
How do you deal with possessions?
In what ways can you downsize?
How will you sort out the things that you really don’t need?
Where is your priority?