We could maybe identify that there are two polar opposite categories of people when it comes to a view of money and material resources and how to use them.
The first category might be those who worry about not having enough for whatever might happen in the future. They therefore hold tightly and cautiously onto what they have, saving and hording against the day of trouble.
The second category could be seen as those who see money as something to be used and spent. They don’t worry about tomorrow, figuring there will be more money at that time from somewhere. So get what you need, and don’t fear fulfilling what delights your eyes.
There is some truth and danger in both perspectives, and it could be argued that wisdom is found in a balance of the two. However, in light of the teachings we have been sharing, not only in this passage at the beginning of this series but also in light of the previous series on giving, we would promote a third view. And that is to see money and material resources as the provisional gifts of God over which we are temporary stewards.
Having preached Sunday and written yesterday on the parable of the rich fool, I asked this first follow-up question of the week: Week 2, Question 1 – What are the natural motivating issues of human life that drive us (if unchecked) to desire to greedily accumulate material assets?
We could suggest multiple answers for sure. Perhaps for some it is the pride of life and success – to have the ability to enjoy the fruits of riches and to flaunt it for others to see.
But the question asks what are the NATRUAL motivating issues for accumulation. And I think the answer to that is fear – the fear of being caught short, of not having enough. And so long as that feeling is present, a person is not going to feel the ability and comfort to be generous – not towards others or toward God and his Kingdom.
And I think this idea really fits with the passage and the parable given. And the reason I say that is because of what immediately follows in the text as the further words of Christ …
Luke 12:22 – Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
So does this passage mean we should go out and sell everything we have and give it to the poor? No, just like we are not to “hate” family. These are sayings in a culture where points were made by stating the extreme position.
But what it is teaching is an overarching perspective that should cause us to not fear being generous by having a view of this world that it is temporary, and that the only lasting components of it are those things that are done for Christ’s eternal Kingdom. We should not fear generosity; we should make using our resources for God to be our number one priority. And when that is done, everything else naturally follows and flows into place.
Never were truer words spoken than the inseparable connection between a person’s heart and their wallet.
Here is a second question of the week that sort of takes off on the first one and builds upon all that we’ve been discussing …
Week 2, Question 2 – What might we list as foolish reasons for hoarding material assets; and what would it look like to (a) “build bigger barns” in 2015, or rather (b) to be rich toward God?
As Mike Myers would say in the “Coffee Talk” sketch on Saturday Night Live, “Talk among yourselves!”