Today's Lectionary Text
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 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.”
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“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. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“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?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
As Christians, we often struggle with the concept of wealth. On one hand, we are told to provide for our families and future generations (Proverbs 13:22, 1 Timothy 5:8) while on the other hand we are warned of the dangers of seeking wealth Proverbs 23:4, Matthew 19:23-24). It’s no wonder that there is confusion about the accumulation of wealth.
However, when we look closely at the scriptures, we can see that money, itself, is not good or bad. It is simply a tool that we use to survive. Rather, it is how we feel about money that concerns God. It’s not a possession or accumulation issue -- but a heart issue.
Jesus’ teachings often point to our hearts. Think about his warnings of lust (Matthew 5) and of charitable acts (Matthew 6). In all circumstances, Jesus refers to our heart condition regarding the matter at hand. What is our intent and our motivation?
And God knows our motivations. I believe that this is why a baseline of a tithe was established and yet some people are called to give everything they have (Mark 10:21). For the rich young ruler, his love of his wealth was a barrier between God and himself. Therefore, it was an idol. And Jesus knew this man’s heart.
Likewise, Jesus knows your heart. How do you feel about money, giving, wealth, financial security, and passing on an inheritance to your children? Is your heart in the right place? When you think about a life with wealth, does it look like a life of leisure and new toys? Or does it look like an opportunity to be in a ministry you are passionate about without the concern of “making a living”?
Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Know your own heart on the matter of wealth.
Pastor at Valley Falls and Coal Creek, Kansas
Prayer for Reflection
Lord, we live in a time and place where greed is rampant. We see the injustices that take place around us to feed the insatiable hunger of the greedy, often at the cost of those who can least afford it. Open our eyes to our own feelings about money and belongings. Help us to recognize greed in the world around us. We need your guidance in using this necessary tool of survival in ways that glorify you and reveal the love we have for our neighbors.
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