THE FOLLY OF GREED
"Then (Jesus) told them this story: 'The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself. 'What can I do? My barn isn't big enough for this harvest.' Then he said, 'Here's what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll gather in all my grain and goods, and I'll say to myself, 'Self, you've done well! You've got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!'
"Just then God showed up and said, 'Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods, who gets it?'" Luke 12:16-20 (The Message).
Jesus told this story to illustrate what happens to a man who hoards his wealth instead of sharing it. He exposed three misunderstandings that are common in our world today. The first is that we got our money and possessions by our own efforts. The man in the story assumed that it was his clever farming methods that produced a bumper crop. How do we know this? There is no hint of gratitude to God for his harvest. He took his good fortune for granted with no reference to God.
Secondly, he assumed that it was all his and that he could do what he pleased with it. There was no thought of asking God what He wanted done with it. He was a typical example of what was known in Hebrew thought as someone who had 'the evil eye'. He was the centre of his world and his priority in everything. He was completely self- absorbed and God-unaware.
Thirdly, he thought he had a long time to enjoy his wealth. He forgot how transient and uncertain life is. Because he was so self-confident and self-sufficient, God interrupted his life and cut it off with the question, 'Now who will get your stuff?' We have no control over our lifespan.
We see this attitude everywhere. Page through a glossy magazine. It is full of glamour and success with no reference to God. From where does wealth, beauty, gifts and talents come? It would seem that somehow celebrities think they are responsible. They 'farm' their accomplishments, turn it into gold and build bigger barns to store it for their personal enjoyment. Oh yes, some may even share some of their wealth but even that is often tainted because God never features in any of it. However, this attitude is to be expected in people who have not yet become aware of God's place in their lives.
The sad thing is that believers often have the same attitude. We may not be celebrities and we may not be harvesting bumper 'crops' from our self-made success, but the underlying ideas are still the same. 'My money is mine and I can do what I like with it.' Like the manna that was hoarded overnight, it will spoil. This does not mean that God is stingy and does not want His children to be wealthy. God is generous beyond understanding. He delights to bless His people with material benefits. Poverty is never a reflection of who God is.
To understand God's purpose in blessing us with material things, we have to acknowledge two fundamentals: That everything belongs to God, which means that what we have is on loan to us; and that we are stewards, not owners, of our possessions.
Two more misunderstandings need to be cleared up: That saving for our future is wrong and that God will provide for us in the future if we spend all our money now.
God is much smarter than that! He gave us an economic system in the Old Testament which answers all these questions and takes care of all these issues. Regardless of whether it was Old Testament teaching or not, it is God's wisdom which worked for His people then and will work for us now. He didn't change the rules just because we are under grace. Scattered throughout God's Word are the principles of generosity which reflect God's character and break the cycle of greed in us if we put them into practice.
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