In Luke we read in the opening phrase, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance
On the one hand, that would seem an entirely fair perspective for the brother to have- that is, to share in the inheritance…to receive what very well may rightfully belong to him. Why then does Jesus take such a strong stand against it in His reply: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Why is it greedy to want what is rightfully ours? After all, many of us have come from difficult backgrounds, when times were hard and we have ‘made something of ourselves.’ We have become educated and trained and we work hard…
In the parable Jesus shares to reveal to the man what is in his heart, the point is well made- If we are given more, it is not to be stored for our own use so that we can, “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” In fact, this thinking is considered foolish in God’s eyes (and stands in complete contrast to the ideals of the world, which usually means we are on the right track).
So then what is our response to be? Do we, “sell (our) possessions and give to the poor?” In Luke 12:33 there is no question mark at the end of that sentence.
Really God? Really? Sell our possessions and give it away to the poor? Do you mean homeless people? Do you mean give it to those in the downtown Eastside? What if they have a drug addiction? I know they are just going to buy drugs with the money. Do you mean give to students who might be struggling? But haven’t students made the choice to sacrifice so they will be further ahead later on when they become professionals? Why should I give away everything I have accumulated over the years just because I have chosen a different path?
I am no theologian, and I expect people a lot smarter than me might debate this with me, but when I have wrestled with these questions, and ultimately I have concluded that it comes down to my heart. Am I willing to let go of everything for the sake of His kingdom? Or do I worry, “what will I eat, what will I wear?” Am I attached to the things I own or am I so in love with God that I will obey the minute He whispers, ‘give it all away?’
I can say with confidence that Jesus wants us to be generous. He wants us to give to the church to help pay the bills, to provide funds for ministry and to provide a living for those called to serve as pastoral staff. This, I believe, is from our monthly earnings. In addition, I will go so far as to say that we are commanded to give above and beyond, perhaps sacrificing what we would otherwise store up. When we have been blessed with material abundance, do we build bigger barns? Meditate on this phrase: “(Death) is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God,” (Luke 12:20,21).
Only the Lord knows my heart, and yours. It is not for me to judge you, nor for you to judge me. It is for the Lord to search our hearts and know where our treasure lies. Giveyourself to His kingdom that He has so generously given to you. Be free from worry and fear, trusting that you are the most valuable of all of His creation. He knows what you need.
Remember that all of us, who at one time, “…gratified the cravings of our sinful nature and followed its desires and thoughts,” have been saved by grace:
“through faith— and this is not from (our)selves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do,”
(Ephesians 2:3, 2:8-10).
A prayer for today:
Jesus, we give you thanks for expressing the greatest form of love by giving up your life for each one of us. Help us to be mindful that we are saved by grace and grace alone, no amount of giving or good deeds can redeem us. But…everything we have comes from you…absolutely everything! Help us to let it go. Oh God, free us from the trappings of our sinful desires, our need to hold on things, to control what we have, to claim it as our own. Heavenly Father, reveal to us the truth that you are trustworthy and faithful in every aspect of our lives and we never need to worry.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,” (Deut. 31:8).
- Rina Carbol