13Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus,] “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then 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. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20But 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?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Have you ever thought about how we work our whole lives so that we can raise our children, pay our bills, with the hope that one day we will have enough saved up so that we can eventually retire, sit back and relax, sleep in each morning, and have the day to do nothing but the things that we enjoy doing! I believe that this is every human’s dream! I know that it is mine!
In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus is encountered by a man who wants Jesus to intervene on his behalf for his brother to give him his fair share of his father’s inheritance. Jesus refuses to do so. He tells his friend, “I am not your arbitrator. Be careful of all kinds of greed.” And then he begins to tell us another parable. The story is that there is a man who has worked his whole life and now has more than plenty to retire. In fact, he has so much, he tears down his old barns and builds bigger and better barns for all his possessions. You can almost hear the sigh as the man sits back in his easy chair, his feet propped up, a cold beer in his hand, and watching his favorite TV Show.
But Jesus then calls him a fool! And why is he a fool? Because that same very night this man is going to die. And guess what? The man who went to all the trouble to save up his whole life and even build a bigger home to store all of his stuff, cannot only take it all with him, but also will never get to enjoy it.
The story reminds me of a couple we used to know up in the mountains. They finally get to retire, build the mountain house of their dreams, and no sooner had he finished building the house, he has a massive heart attack and dies. He never gets to enjoy the one thing he dreamed of as he worked his whole life.
In all honesty, I don’t think you and I are any different than the man the saved up so much that he could one day relax, drink, and be merry. However, none of us really know what our future holds from one day to the next. And so, this text begs the question, “What is Jesus trying to say to us?”
I believe that Jesus is trying to tell us several things. Firstly, we do not have any control over our lives when it comes to our death here on earth. Secondly, it doesn’t do any good to hoard up on goods. Remember the toilet paper scare in the beginning of the pandemic? But, most importantly, I believe that Jesus is saying that because we do not know the day or the hour of our death, we are to put our trust in him. In other words, if we trust in God to provide for us all that we need, it then frees us to live our lives to do all the things that we are called to do in a life in Christ. It frees us to be generous with what we have – our money, time, and talents. It frees us to recognize that all that we have are blessings. And our blessings are just that – blessings!
Everything that we have belongs to God! God gives us our abilities to do the work we are called to do – help those who are less fortunate; to provide the means to do ministry in our congregations, and the opportunities to proclaim Christ!
I was listening to a song as I was walking the other day. There was a lyric that stood out for me: “There is pain in the offering.” I wonder if each of us gave our tithe until it hurts, what would our world look like then…