Pastoral Ponderings: Richer than you think

Storing up treasures isn’t the pathway to greater riches

Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops? Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull 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 ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)

Are you rich?

I wonder how many people pass this parable by because they’ve reasoned out an adequate explanation of why it doesn’t apply to them based on their answer to that question. I’m not rich at all, so I can give this one a miss. I’m not rich, I’m “well off.” I’m not really rich, I’m saving for my retirement. Well, I think that’s a little more nuance than Jesus would have been familiar with. Times have changed since the first century. But that’s not the point anyway. The question isn’t about material wealth, of course, it’s about spiritual health. And we should all want to answer that question with a resounding “Yes! I am rich!”

So can you? That’s what the parable asks us to consider. What really matters? Being rich isn’t inherently bad. The “rich man” in this parable doesn’t suffer from being rich. He suffers from greed. Greed is all about gathering to oneself more than you could possibly ever need our want. So let’s start there.

Look how many times the rich man in the parable says “I.” Every action he takes, everything that seems important to him begins with “I.” When he’s that focused on himself, where is his relationship with the world around him? Or his relationship with God?

And what does he do with all that he has “produced abundantly?” What does he really need to “relax, eat, drink and be merry?” Now those are good questions. And a lot harder ones to answer in our consumer driven society.

Our desire to acquire “stuff” has skewed our sense of what we need. We are convinced to think from scarcity (we must have more) rather than abundance (look what we have already). Jesus invites us to think from abundance and to see that in relation to the world around us Jesus asks us to consider what we have and how we can share it with others. And that’s not just about money or stuff. It’s about the greatest treasure of all: you. When you share yourself with others, the reward is far greater than any money, treat or toy.

The time for all of that, of course, is now. This moment. Share your abundance now, don’t save it. Share it now, share it extravagantly, share it with all the love in your heart. We’re all already rich.

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