August 4, 2019
by Anne Travis
Laity of Ebenezer UMC (Knoxville, TN)
Smoky Mountain District
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.
19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
I have been intrigued by the recent interest in the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. Many people are inspired to “declutter” their homes and get rid of their “stuff” because of this trend. I’ve even heard that organizations such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Knox Area Rescue Ministries (in the Knoxville area) are being overwhelmed with “stuff” that persons are purging from their homes. Purging has become the current fad – even using Lent as a time to “purge” our “stuff.”
This trend seems to be the opposite problem of the rich man in this parable that Jesus tells. The man wants bigger barns and buildings to store up more! Yet, Jesus responds with the question, “ … who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
We might ask ourselves the same question. As we enter the last third of our lives, my husband and I have carefully prepared our wills so our assets that remain when we die are cared for according to our wishes, including providing for a tithe of what remains. We are reminded of Jesus’ teaching in this parable, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15
As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for those who are less fortunate while we are living, and we have a responsibility to care for what remains of our gifts after our death. This caring is Christian stewardship at its best, and Jesus calls us to be good stewards of all that is entrusted to us. Sometimes good stewardship means “purging” our excess “stuff” and placing it where it can be used by others; sometimes good stewardship means sharing with others from our plenty while we are living; and sometimes – as in this story – Jesus teaches us not to be greedy and hoard for ourselves that which we cannot take with us when our lives end.
Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for the precious gift you have given us – the gift of life. Help us to live in such a way that we are good stewards of all the many gifts you have given us so that we share love with others in all that we do. In the name of our Teacher, your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.