I’ve just been rereading Luke’s gospel, blown away by the incredible wisdom contained in every line. This verse really jumped out at me recently, probably because I was in the midst of planning additions to my spring garden when Jesus reminded me, for the thousandth time, that there are more important things in life than what I can pack into my garden.
“One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
For proof, imagine yourself in a nursing home -- you, who once lived in 2000- or 3000 or 4000-square-foot splendor, reduced to sharing a 15x20-foot room, your wardrobe pruned back to fit into a single dresser and armoire, your library decimated to whatever you can squeeze into an apartment-sized nightstand, your Christmas Wish List limited to tiny gift suggestions like postage stamps and a few blank birthday cards.
There’s not much room for pursuing covetousness in such an environment – at least not if it’s directed at material goods.
Fortunately, in sayings such as the one quoted above, Jesus destroyed the notion that possessions define our lives. And He followed it up with the parable of the rich man who needed more barns to store his crops – a stern warning against accumulating more and more possessions along the road to a life of ease (verses 16-21).
You probably know people who spent their lives acquiring everything that appeals to them, working overtime to satisfy “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life,” as John described it in chapter 2 of his first epistle. They stuffed their closets with clothing and their pantries with food and their garages with cars and recreational equipment, and when they ran out of room, if they could swing it, they moved on to bigger and better quarters.
This sort of covetousness certainly dominated my life before I met the Lord Jesus Christ, and discovered that true satisfaction comes not from possessing but from being forgiven, that the only thing worth acquiring in this life is knowledge of my Creator and the assurance of spending all eternity with Him.
But I wonder: what if I’d stayed lost? What if I still thought my happiness would be found “in the abundance of the things” possessed? How would I have handled the prospect of squeezing 2000 square feet of abundance into a 150-square-foot half-room, and calling it a life?
I thank God that He does whatever is necessary to change the hearts and minds of anyone who is willing – and that, for those who are, He made the key to everlasting joy abundantly clear.
“Do not fear, little flock,” He said in Luke 12:32,34, “for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”