Side Effects

by | Aug 3, 2022 | Generosity, Giving, Thankfulness

Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”

Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ “

“Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.’ ” 

” ‘And I’ll sit back and say to myself, ‘My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’ “

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

-Luke 12:13-21


Wealth’s side effects are hazardous to a follower of Jesus. You may say, “Yeah, there are side effects; it’s called happiness, sleeping at ease at night, and having the best of everything.” I get it; that is what our culture has depicted as the ultimate successful life. Jesus taught a different view, one that combated greed. Greed is nothing more than the assumption that everything placed in our hands is for our consumption. When we desire more objects and less Jesus, it will always result in never having enough. 

Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 6:17, “to teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.”

In the text from Luke 12, Jesus was preaching to his followers when an argument broke out in the crowd. It was an argument about greed, and one person accused the other of greed and vice versa. Jesus then tells them of a man who becomes rich but is not very good at being rich.

If we put a modern twist to the story, then just imagine that the man wakes up one day and sees money in the bank and gas in the car tank, and he still has more than he needs. Then he decides that he needs to tear down all his barns and build bigger barns because the future looks so bright. After all, it was his hard work and his wisdom that put him in this position. It has all the makings of a feel-good movie until Jesus throws the crowd a curve.

What the man had forgotten was that he could die, and all that he thought was his would go to others. He didn’t see it coming because the side effects of his wealth had distracted him. He thought he had made himself rich. He assumed that everything in his hands was his, which meant he could deal with it as he pleased. He had so much that his eyes couldn’t see past what he had. Jesus told us that the rich man’s story can directly mirror our own if we lose focus on what you and I have been placed here to do now.

The only way to keep from becoming greedy and arrogant and allowing our hope to migrate toward objects instead of Jesus is to pursue a life of generosity. Through generosity, we inoculate ourselves from the danger of greed, and then we will find true happiness.

Journeying together,

John


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