Read: Luke 12
Then Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12:15, NLT)
We don’t use words like covetousness or greed a whole lot these days, but we should. We Americans are a pretty greedy lot—me included. Our whole economic system is predicated on the hopes that you and I will grow dissatisfied with what we’ve got and go buy something newer, better, and bigger.
For instance, since Jesus told the story in Luke 12:16-20 about a man who thought his property was too small, let’s just take a look at our insatiable thirst for bigger homes. Did you know that the average home size in the United States was 1,000 square feet in the 1950’s, and while the average number of household residents has shrunk since the 1960’s, home size has grown to 2,422 square feet today.
It was a whole different picture when I was growing up. My mom, dad, three other siblings and a couple of family pets all lived comfortably in a home that was 1,200 square feet, if that. We shared bedrooms, bathrooms, clothes, didn’t have a garage to park our car in, and only one TV—with no remote control! We actually had to get up and walk across the room to change the channel, if you can imagine that.
And we didn’t think any thing of it. We didn’t feel poor or cheated or even realize what we didn’t have. We were content! We spent a whole lot more time together as a family. We ate together. We all drove together in the same car, even when we were teenagers—a family of six crammed into an AMC Gremlin! or was it a Hornet? Whatever—it was a really ugly car that should have never been made. My point is, we were as happy as a lark—we didn’t know what we didn’t know.
We were content—and emotionally healthy. We had discovered what G.K Chesterton said, “True contentment is a real, even active virtue—not only affirmative but creative. It is the power of getting out of any situation all there is in it.”
As a society, we Americans would do well to read Luke 12. It is a tough one, but what Jesus had to say about the deceitfulness of wealth, the debilitating worry over stuff, and our ultimate accountability before God for the stewardship of what we possess is much needed medicine for the greed that ails our society these days.
One day, sooner than you think, you will stand before God. None of the things you have collected during your earthly journey are going with you. The only thing that will go with you into the next life that will do you any good is what you have done for God. Jesus said of the rich man in the parable, “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?”
As the poet said, ‘Tis one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
“If you cannot get what you like, why not try to like what you get?”
What If God Took Over?
Here is a novel idea: Give away some of your stuff this week to someone who really needs it—and don’t replace it!