After a weekend full of repairs around the house including the roof, washing machine, car and mowing the grass, a friend once commented to me, “You know Bob, sometimes I’m not sure if I own my things or if my things own me!” I couldn’t help but agree. The things we own can put such demand on our time and our energy and resources. Sometimes, we get into a mindset that the goal of life is to collect more and more things, to have more and more to be happy and secure. If we aren’t careful, as we gather more and more things, they come to own more and more of our time. I believe it is the reason that the “minimalist movement” is on the rise. Tiny houses and simple living has become popular and even trendy.
It’s interesting if you go back and read the New Testament, you will find Jesus talking more about money and material things than any other subject, and yet, not once did Jesus say money is bad or evil or that it’s wrong to have things! He never said that, so why did he talk about it more than anything else? Maybe it’s because he knew that money and material things would be an incredible temptation to misuse.
In Luke 12:13-21 Jesus told a story about a man who was a very rich farmer. The farmer planted seeds, grew crops and filled up his barns with the harvest. He continued to fill up his barns, telling himself, “Once I fill up all of these barns, I can tell my soul to relax, take it easy. To eat, drink and be merry. I will be secure the rest of my days!” But, God came to him and said, “You fool, for tonight you will die and now who will these things belong to?” Today, I want to share 3 things that we can do to avoid the mistakes of this rich farmer.
The farmer made the mistake of trusting material things for his security, hope and happiness. He felt that if he could just put back enough, then he could finally be happy and enjoy life. With a surplus, he would be able to kick back to eat, drink, be merry! Any of us who have lived through the ups and downs of the oil business in Oklahoma, know that when you trust things for security and happiness, you are trusting the wrong thing. No matter how carefully you plan and insure, things can slip through your fingers. It is so tempting to put our hope and security in the size of our bank account, the car we drive, the home we live, the vacations we take, or the clothes we wear, but these are the very things you can’t hold on to. As Christians, our hope comes through our faith in Jesus Christ. Christ is with us today, and Christ is with us when we face death. What do you trust? Where does your hope come from? What makes you feel secure?
When the farmer talked about material things, he had a very self-centered approach. When you read the story, you can see how many times it mentions I, me, my or myself. It’s only natural, we all want to take care of ourselves and our families, but I believe God has given us everything we need to make this world work- right now! We have enough food that tonight everybody in the world could go to bed full, not hungry. We have enough to make the world work and to have peace, if we all choose to share. When we only look out for ourselves, we can never have a world of peace.
Another mistake the farmer made was thinking he had an unlimited amount of time. He kept thinking, one day I’m finally going to have enough that I’ll feel secure and I can enjoy my life. If I can just save enough to build these bigger barns and put my crops in them, then I’ll have enough to retire and enjoy life. And God came to him and said, “You fool. Tonight you will die.” Notice God didn’t call the farmer a bad man. He didn’t say he was evil or wrong. I have a feeling the farmer had a lot of attributes that we admire. He was obviously a hard worker and I bet he was an honest, fair entrepreneur! You can look at the farmer and say, “He was a pretty good guy who just made a mistake.”
I have a feeling God called him a fool deep sadness in his voice, God must have been thinking, “You’ve had everything you needed for a long time to be happy and you’ve waited and wasted the gift of life all these years. You’re not bad, you’re not evil, you’re just a fool. If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves in this same spot, telling ourselves, “If we can ever just get that mortgage paid off, build up our savings, get both cars paid off, get the kids out of college” and the list goes on and on. I believe the good news is, you have enough today to know the goodness of life. No matter how much or how little you have, you have everything you need to live this day in a spirit of celebration, when the real issue is sharing love, and caring for one another.
Maybe, today you and I need to take a moment to stop and ask, where do we place our trust? Where does our hope come from? For if our hope is in Christ and we share our love, then this week we can go out and make the day count.