Most of us have visited a junkyard, or its modern equivalent of an antique and collectibles store? Or perhaps you’ve gone to an estate auction. All the above have the same impact on me when I visit them. Everywhere I look there is “stuff” that people have worked and saved to buy. All around me are what were once a person’s possessions—-“stuff” that they lived for and were proud of and had meaning for them. Now they are fit only for a dump or the shelf of a store or to be auctioned to the highest bidder who is looking for a bargain! They are an apt illustration that placing our hopes and dreams on material possessions will eventually lead us nowhere but to the junkyard. Materialism has only junk value!!
Jesus taught that God defines “riches” differently than we do. Our riches, in God’s eye, are NOT our possessions. Our riches, in God’s eyes are our treasures—-and there is a big difference!
Think about these differences:
- We possess a job—-We treasure the family that job supports.
- We possess a house—-We treasure our home.
- We possess a bank account—We treasure friendship and love that money cannot buy.
- We possess a car—-We treasure the freedom that car gives us to go and come as we wish.
- We possess a wardrobe—-We treasure the life and health that allows us to wear that wardrobe.
- We possess an appointment book—-We treasure our time.
Jesus told a story about this. It’s often referred to as the Parable of the Rich Fool.
The Rich Fool doesn’t seem foolish at first. He is presented as a good farmer and shrewd businessman whose land produced abundantly. With wealth pouring in much faster than he could use it, he faced a problem. “What should I do?” he thought to himself, “for I have no place to store my crops.” His solution was this: He decided to pull down his barns and build bigger ones, so that he could store all of his grain and his goods. Then he said to his soul: “Hey, soul! You are doing all right! Go ahead, relax, eat, drink, be merry.” Then comes the surprise: Death!! That was something the rich man didn’t factor into his business plan. And 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?”
The rich man’s efforts on earth have been terribly misdirected. He has been storing up treasures for himself, instead of becoming rich toward God by giving some of those riches to the poor and the hungry. He was a victim of “greed need“, which is a virus that gives us an “obsession for possession” and can infect any one of us whether we have a lot of money or not.
Jesus taught something very different in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break through and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
How important are your possessions to you? What do you treasure? We can each answer that question for ourselves by looking at two things: (1) Our Calendar; and (2) our checkbook. They will answer the following three questions about what you treasure:
- How do I spend my time?
- For what do I spend my money?
- What is my basis for making decisions on time and money!
Are you happy with your answers?
Posted in Pastoral Concerns
Tagged collectibles store, Life assessment, material possessions, Money, Planning ahead, poor and needy, Possessions, Priorities, Time, Treasures, values
You can’t drive by looking only in the rear-view mirror of your car. Likewise, you can’t go through life looking only through the rear-view mirror. If we live only in the past we miss the joy and blessings of the present and the opportunity to plan for the future. After all, the present is the only time we really have. The past can’t be changed and there is no guarantee we will have a future on earth!
That’s not to say that we never should look at our past life through the rear-view mirror. We have to know where we’ve been to understand where we are and to plan for where we’d like to be. The beginning of this new year, 2014, is a time when it might be good to take a few glances in the “rear-view mirror of the past year”as we steer our lives into the future.
I’ve never been much for making “new year’s resolutions”. But I do think it is a good idea to assess the past year in order that we may value our accomplishments, be cognizant of our failures, and thus make adjustments for our goals for a new year based on what we have learned from both accomplishments and failures. And we need to seek to discern God’s hand in both the accomplishments and failures.
I would propose we ask ourselves several very personal and important questions. They should be answered honestly and as fully as possible. The questions are:
- What have I accomplished this year, as a child of God, that was worthwhile and noteworthy? How many of these accomplishments do I think God holds as worthwhile and noteworthy? Why do I think that? How has my life made a difference for those whom I have touched in some way? How has my own life changed because of these accomplishments? Where do I see God’s hand in my accomplishments?
- Where have I failed to be what I should and can be as a human being and a child of God? What do I wish I could change and how can I make those changes with God’s help?
- What have I learned from both my failures and successes? How would I describe the different person I should strive to be in the coming year in the light of lessons learned from failures and successes?
- Based on the above questions, what goals should I have for this current year that lies before me?
I would suggest that not only are these good questions for individuals to ask, but are very important for churches to ask as they begin a new year.
Life can change in an instant! In the Summer of 2010, my wife and I spent a sunday evening planning what we would do when I retired from the interim ministry the next Sunday. We planned a trip to California; to explore the area around our new home in Wichita; to take some day trips in Kansas and to go to other places. I went to bed with these thoghts in mind. About an hour later, as my wife came to bed, somehow she stumbled at the head of the stairs and even with the stairlift in the way, fell headlong down the stairs and sustained a life-ending brain bleed. A week later she died—never regaining consciousness.
In an instant, our lives changed forever!
I could not avoid thinking of unpredictability of life as I read the headlines today about the airliner crash in San Franscisco. 182 injured, 2 deaths. I thought about how a few i nstants before the crash some passengers were anticipating reunions with loved ones; some were looking forward to a great vacation in the states; some were perhaps here to begin college, or to start a new job—or were just coming back home!
In an instant, anticipation of happy events changed to pain or death. In an instant!!
This life is unpredictable isn’t it? Too often we forget this and are like the man in the paraable Jesus told about the farmer whose crops were so good that he built bigger and bigger barns to store them in. Then he sat down and said: “Soul, eat drink and be merry!”
Jesus called him a “fool”. He said: “You fool, tonight your life will be required of you and then who will have all of these riches you have stored up?”
We never know how long we will enjoy this life, so it is better to “build up treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not corrupt, and thieves do not break in and steal” Jesus told his listeners. Life is fleeting. Enjoy and be thankful for what and who you have in your life today, for there are no guarantees for tomorrow!
And be sure that God is in your life today, so that tomorrow will always be assured to you as a treasure in God’s Kingdom.