About a week ago we had an appointment with our lawyer to update our wills. In order to help us with the process, he was obligated to present us with all the ‘worst case scenarios’ that he could think of. By the time he was finished with all the ‘what-ifs’ I was becoming impatient. Most of what he said sounded as if they came from the script of a terrible soap opera. However, he assured us that things like this happen, that families do fight over wills and inheritances, even though I tried to convince him that our family does not.
Today’s reading takes me to Luke 12. Jesus is talking to a large gathering when someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Our lawyer might mutter, “See, they fight and even ask God to pick sides,” but Jesus would not do it. He replied, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then, so all the crowd could hear, He said, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
This is so true. It even seems appropriate at Christmas to be reminded that our lives are not about stuff, not how much stuff we have, nor about how much stuff is placed under the Christmas tree. While most would nod in agreement, the truth comes out when a sibling tries to take that special item that “mom said I could have.”
In thinking about that, another truism comes to mind from the same passage in Luke. It gave me the second part of one of those ‘one-two punches’ that God often delivers . . .
The first came while we were at the Christmas Eve service in our church, singing and celebrating that God clothed Himself in human flesh and lived among us. I had struggled all day with something, one of those ‘I wants’ that I knew would never be under the Christmas tree, but the Lord used this special evening to speak to me. I was still thinking about it when He clearly said, “Your life is not about you.”
With that fresh in my mind, He took me today to the second part of Luke 12 where Jesus shared a parable with the crowd. He said, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: 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 ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
All that day I’d been wanting to lay up treasure for myself. It wasn’t more ‘stuff’ but it was something I thought would enrich my life. But God spoke two times stressing that my life is not about me, and if I try to make it about me, I will always feel impoverished. It is only when I’m fully consecrated to Him that I will feel rich and actually be rich.
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38–39)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)