7-27-16 - Storage

Is it God’s little joke to have me exploring this parable this week, when the abundance of my “stuff” is so literally in my face? Why am I bringing some 25 boxes of books to DC? Why all the pretty things that gather dust on end tables? I’ve culled papers, clothing, books and kitchenware, yet there’s still a lot going on that moving truck. BUT I will never resort to putting my stuff long-term in a storage unit, just hoping I’ll use it some day. Therein lies insanity – and given the number of storage facilities disfiguring our landscapes in this country, there seems to be a lot of insanity around.

Jesus begins his parable about the pitfalls of greed by talking of storage units:

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.

Building bigger barns. There’s a metaphor for acquisition fever. Many of us go through life acquiring things and then needing larger houses in which to store it all. And the name for that is not success or prosperity – the spiritual name for it is greed. Greed can be defined as having more than we need and wanting more still.

So, are we all greed-ridden? I confessed yesterday that I have more than I need. I suspect most people reading this have more than they need, and we can all come up with more things that we want or think we need. Such is the human condition. How then are we to receive such a teaching? Hanging our heads in despair and walking away from the Gospel altogether, because we’re not the kind of disciples that leave it all to follow Jesus? That kind of resignation only leads us deeper into the worship of stuff, because then we need stuff to stuff down the feelings of guilt and inadequacy. What might we do instead?

We can put Jesus first, every day. Give God the best part of the day, when we’re freshest and our spirits are most open. As we grow in relationship with God, our priorities inevitably shift. We may still enjoy the abundance we have, but with less fear of losing it and more joy in sharing it. The more we give it away, the less we worry about how to store it.

I’ve read that Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have decided to live on 1 percent of their income and give away the other 99 percent. At their level of wealth, I’m sure they still have plenty. Even so, it’s a an inspiring choice, one we might begin to move toward. If we give away the biblical standard of 10 percent of our income (gross or net, you choose), we still have 90 percent to play with. That’s a lot!

The antidote to greed is generosity. As we excel in giving, we will delight in God’s grace. No need to sock that away - it never runs out.

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