One day a man came up to Jesus and asked Him to judge between his brother and himself in the matter of an inheritance. What followed was a teaching on greed. Jesus warned, “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, NASB95) Our possessions can take many forms, the most obvious are the physical things that surround us and the Dollars that make up our bank balances. But, there are also some not so obvious possessions that can become the targets of greed. Things like time, love, memories, forgiveness, justice, mercy, grace, honor, abilities, spiritual gifts, responsibilities, and rights. We can be greedy on any of these, possessing them but unwilling to give them to others in need.
Jesus followed up His warning with a parable. “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16–21, NASB95) God gives us an abundance for a reason, most often to meet the needs of others. God expected the man in the parable to give away his abundance instead of hoarding it for himself. Like physical possessions and money, we can hoard the things that I’ve listed above. All of those can be greedily, selfishly, stored away and kept for ourselves or for those few we deem to be worthy. But, God doesn’t pour His love into our lives for us to keep it, but to plant it in the lives of others. God doesn’t show us mercy and grace so that we can withhold it from others who have offended us. He does not grant us abilities solely for our own entertainment and enjoyment.
The rich man’s fatal flaw is not that he stored up what was given to him, that was simply the symptom of his larger problem. His fatal flaw is not having faith in God’s abilities to meet his needs. He had not learned that God will fill what is empty just like He filled the universe. That’s the beauty of walking with Jesus Christ. As we empty ourselves, as He emptied Himself, we are continually refilled so that we can empty ourselves some more. Here’s my encouragement – Find where you’ve have become greedy, not trusting the Lord to meet your needs, and choose to share your surplus time, love, memories, forgiveness, justice, mercy, grace, honor, abilities, spiritual gifts, responsibilities, and rights with others. This list is simply an example of the non-tangibles people can hoard, I’m sure there are many more. The importance is not what is on the list but if there is anything the Lord has given us which we have withheld and hoarded. Those are the areas we do not have faith in the Lord to meet our needs.