Have you noticed the proliferation of storage units springing up everywhere. We have many of them in our little northwest corner of Montana, but as we travel through Idaho, Washington and Oregon, we notice the same phenomenon–storage units of all sizes to store small items as well as boats, campers and RV’s, etc. People are obviously acquiring more and more “stuff” to where they no longer have room for it all.
There is a seemingly inordinate desire for “more.” Jesus warned about the pointlessness of focusing on the temporal. He said, “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” (Lk. 12:15). In other words, life is to be about more than the “stuff” accumulated in this temporal existence. The “stuff” of this life must never become an end in itself.
Jesus illustrated this principlewith a parable of a rich man whose barns were not big enough to hold his abundant crops and his goods, so he built bigger ones (Lk. 12:13-31). Apparently it never occurred to him to give the excess away to others who might be in need. He was so self-absorbed that he only focused on the need to build more “storage units” to hold his abundance (vv. 17,18). He was proud of his accomplishment and planned to enjoy his excess for many years (v. 19).
You will notice there is no mention of God in his plans. He was like the one addressed by James in his epistle: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil” (Jas. 4:13-16). The wealthy barn builder in Jesus’ parable made no provision for his soul (Lk. 12:20a) and God called him a fool (v. 20b). When he died, he might have left much “stuff” behind, but he had made no provision for his eternal future. He had not “laid up treasure in heaven” (Mt. 6:19-21). The man’s purely temporal perspective left him no provision for eternity. The mere possession of wealth is not an indication of standing in favor with God (See James 1:9-11; 5:1-6). Wealth’s only legacy is its fleeting nature (Lk. 6:24,25). King Solomon, who became one of the wealthiest men to ever live, experienced the futility of focusing on the temporal. When he pursued purpose and significance in his “stuff” (and he had unbelievable possessions) his conclusion was that it was “striving after wind” (Eccl. 2:11). He concluded that “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity…The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments…” (5:10; 12:13).
Paul, in writing to his understudy, Timothy, also addressed the issue of wealth, saying: “But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money (and the ‘stuff’ it can buy) is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness….Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (I Tim. 6:6-11,16-19).
Having an abundance is not sinful, unless we have acquired it in a dishonest way. But we are not to look for our significance in our possessions. Rather, if we are so blessed, we are to be generous in using our abundance for “good works” and sharing with those in need. To the Ephesians, Paul wrote: “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need” (Eph. 4:28).
Above all, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” (Mt. 6:33).