While they may not be mutually exclusive, if we are honest with ourselves, they frequently are in competition. Pursuing possessions on earth often has a way of cutting into laying up treasures in heaven. Reminded of that this morning as I was listening to Jesus’ tell a story.
A rich man had a ton of stuff. So much, in fact, that he had to build more storage units. Sounds familiar. I’ve seen two large storage unit complexes go up in my immediate area in the last year. Must be a business case for these possession palaces. Someone’s done the market research and knows that too many people have too much stuff to store in their own “barns” and so they are building bigger ones for them to lease.
You pause to consider that storing stuff is a thriving business and you wonder how it aligns with Jesus’ warning.
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for ones life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” ~ Jesus
(Luke 12:15 ESV)
Anyway, this rich man builds his bigger barns, he banks all his grain and goods in them, and then he boasts of his accomplishment, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19).
Problem is, his many years aren’t. No sooner does he move his stuff in, then he discovers it’s time for his soul to move on. His soul, Jesus says, is required by its Creator. Demanded back. Called home and asked to report and give an accounting to His Master.
And the possessions he accumulated on earth stay there. Non-transferable. Filled storage units on earth are left to others. They are of no value in heaven.
And the rich man, thinking himself to have accomplished so much, is called a fool. Senseless. Without reason. Without reflection or intelligence. So much potential to invest, but so little return to show for it . . . though he had storage units of stuff.
“So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” ~ Jesus
(Luke 12:21 ESV)
And there it is! The investment strategy that’s doomed to failure–laying up treasure for ourselves. That’s what sets earthly possessions at odds with heavenly riches, when our possessions are primarily for our pleasure and void of any kingdom context. When our wealth is viewed only as the fruit of our work and worth and not of God’s gracious provision. When we live as though our barns are full of our stuff for our purposes rather than containing our Master’s talents to be stewarded on His behalf.
Not down on possessions. I have a few. But heeding the warning this morning. Goods have a way of priming the pump of greed and of distracting us from making the first things first.
In the world we live, how much stuff we have is often the measure of how successful we’ve been. How well a life is being lived, often gauged by the toys to be enjoyed. But that’s not the life Jesus came to give.
The abundant life is one founded on a great debt paid, with an abundant provision promised, so that heavenly storehouses might be filled with riches that last.
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
(1Timothy 6:17-19 ESV)
O that we might rich toward God.
Because of His grace. Only for His glory.