Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pentecost 10 – Proper 13

August 1, 2010
Pentecost 10 – Proper 13
Luke 12:13-21
Possessed by one’s possessions

We need to have a balance in life. We need to learn how to handle our possessions so that our possessions will not handle us. Jesus is not condemning possessions. There is no virtue in being poor, needy, or devoid of material needs. It is a matter of keeping perspective. Do we possess our possessions or do our possessions posses us? Are we slaves to material goods? It is not a question of being rich or having fabulous homes, expensive jewelry, and having a high income. It is not only the super – rich who can become obsessed with possessions even those of modest means can become enslaved to their possessions – no matter how many or how few they may be. To be possessed by your possessions means.

1. You are greedy for possessions. "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." V. 15

A. Can you handle success? Can you handle wealth? Most people who strike it rich wining the lottery are broke within five to seven years. It wasn’t the money per se it was their priorities. It was their attitude toward it. Your life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions. We live in a consumed consumer society that shouts at us everyday saying, “You need more of this, you won’t be happy without that, you need to look this way, and have these things in order to be accepted, respected and valued by others.” The truth of the matter is this; the things of this world are passing away and only the things of eternity last forever.

B. Can you remember what you received for Christmas when you were seven? So why do you think that your children will be scared for life if they don’t have the latest thing? Remember back to that day in your life. At the time what you received might have been the most wonderful thing in the world. But now, looking back and reflecting you must come to realize that what was truly important was having the people who mattered most in your life with you.

2. To be possessed by your possessions means you never get enough possessions. “He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.'” V. 17

A. In just a few weeks it will be here, once again, college move- in day. It’s amazing how much “stuff” an 18 year old can cram into a dorm room! What is amazing to me and I see it each year we take our children and their “stuff” back to campus is those students who arrive in a big honking’ SUV pulling a U-haul which is bigger then the dorm room itself! And remember this student will have a roommate who has come with all of his stuff as well.

B. We can never be satisfied because we always want more. You receive an e-mail from a Mr. Abubakar in Nigeria. He claimed to be the personal friend to the son of the late dictator of Nigeria. He wrote that you were recommended to him as an honest and reliable person to whom he can entrust a sum of money. He explained that the son of the late dictator was using him to send $22 million ill-gotten dollars out of the country. For your help he will give you 20% of the total. He is confident you would not keep all of the money like someone in Germany did a year ago. He asked you to send him your address, fax and phone number, and bank account number. He assures you of privacy. He hoped to hear from you immediately. You don't get something for nothing. We all know that. But why do so many fall for such a scam? We are all tempted by greed.

C. One author put it this way. “If you look carefully you will see that there is one thing and only one thing that causes unhappiness. The name of that thing is Attachment. What is an attachment? An emotional state of clinging caused by the belief that without some particular thing or some person you cannot be happy... Here is a mistake that most people make in their relationships with others. They try to build a steady nesting place in the ever-moving stream of life.”[1]

3. To be possessed by your possessions means you trust your possessions to give the good life. “And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." V. 19

A. Greed seeks worldly things, which must not be equated with true "living”. We stumble when material possessions become a substitute for the proper object of a person's search and worship--God. Therefore, greed . . . is idolatry!

God addresses the man on his own pragmatic terms. He is dealing not with matters of the kingdom or of life beyond death, but with the question of the disposition of his possessions. What will happen to all my stuff? This underscores the fact that in the end he will have to "leave it all". Then it will be someone else’s problem. Walk into any antique shop and it is filled with other people’s stuff. You will never see a U-haul following a hearse.
Solomon reminds us of this reality in the book of Ecclesiastes. I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the work into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. - Ecclesiastes 2:18-19

B. Since you can’t take it with you. Since things will not bring happiness we trust in that one thing needful, the only thing that can cause true contentment and joy which is a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 Contentment, joy, peace, happiness is not found in the amount and the value of our possessions but in knowing Jesus Christ as our personal lord and savior. Trust not in princes they are but mortal. Look to Him where He may be found. There and there alone will we find lasting peace and joy.

Under Jesus’ protection and by His gifts you can experience the best life can offer. Jesus can give a whole new meaning to living because He provides full satisfaction and perfect guidance. He is your sufficiency. With Him there is both peace and contentment.
[1] Anthony de Mello's 'The Way to Love.'

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