The Lure of Possessions
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions’” (Luke 12:15).
According to Webster’s Dictionary, greed is the excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one needs, especially with respect to material possessions and wealth.
The William Barclay New Testament, translates Luke’s words like this, “Watch and guard yourself against the spirit that is always wanting more…”
No culture in the world can hold a candle to America when it comes to accumulating possessions. In fact, our penchant to accumulate can be seen by the number of public storage units that dot the landscape in every city, town, and village. For the most part, these storage units are filled with items which are seldom, if ever used. And yet, people pay good money to store these possessions that they never use. We get so attached to our stuff that thoughts of selling or giving away things that we no longer use don’t even enter our minds.
John Wesley, English cleric, theologian, and evangelist (1703-1791), followed this rule for life, give all you can, save all you can, then enjoy the rest. When he was at Oxford, he had an income of 30 pounds a year. He lived on 28 and gave 2 away. When his income increased to 60 pounds, to 90 pounds, to 120 pounds a year, he still lived on 28 pounds and gave the rest away. As a steward of the resources that God supplied, as his income increased, he was committed to raising his standard of giving, not his standard of living. I know that this sounds terribly foreign to us, even as Christians who claim that this world is not our home.
I once heard of an interview given by a noted billionaire. A well-known member of the media asked him the following question, “How much money is enough?” The man’s answer. “Just a little more!”
Because God created us, He knows that we need such things as food, clothing, and shelter. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things (the necessities of life) He will add unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Our Father knows that we need these things, and even in what proportions.
The Apostle Paul’s advice to young Timothy was, “For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (I Timothy 6:7-8).
That, my friends, is God’s baseline, if we have food and clothing and shelter, we are to be content. Anything above this baseline is pure blessing. And the truth of the matter is, the vast majority of us live far above that baseline. We are partakers of God’s good gifts; therefore, we can afford to be generous, we can afford not to be greedy, hoarding what God has entrusted to our care.
A bumper sticker of days gone by said, “He who dies with the most toys wins!” The fact of the matter? He who dies with the most stuff, still dies. The richest and wisest man that every lived, Solomon, son of David, understood this and it nearly drove him mad. He wrote, “I hated the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to another who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet, he will have control over the fruit of my labor” (Ecclesiastes 3:18-19).
So, my friends, use wisely the possessions that God has graciously entrusted into your care, not hoarding but giving, because the greatest defense against greed is a generous and giving spirit.