August 4, 2013
Pentecost 11 – Proper 13
“Finding life’s true value in a world possessed by possessions.”
Possessed by possessions is the theme for this Sunday. Today the issue confronts us. Jesus refuses to champion the cause of a man who wants his inheritance. Jesus teaches that in the pursuit of wealth, you run the risk losing your sense of self, your sense of direction, and ultimately you could lose your own soul.
Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Life does not consist of going without. It is difficult not to be conformed to this world. You’ve been called to be transformed; – to live in this world, yet, not to be a part of the world. With increased difficulty, life, as it is today, is so comfortable. Avoid the possession of your possessions.
1. Heed the Savior’s warning –beware of covetousness.
A. This is a subtle and prevalent sin.
1. Notice the repeated use of the pronoun “my” – “my fruit,” “my barns,” “my goods,” “my soul” – This man never sees beyond himself!
2. This man never sees beyond his present reality. All his plans are based on his world. Oh yes, he’s thinking about tomorrow. He’s building a legacy. He’s thinking about his children, his grandchildren. But, his plans pertain to a life lived in the here and now. Eternity never enters his mind.
3. This man is without reason because this night his soul is demanded of him. To whom will his possessions belong - then?
Solomon in our Old Testament lesson bemoans the fact that after accumulating wealth he will have to leave it to someone who did not work for it. And it’s not that his kid was a slacker. Solomon is clear on the point. These things were never his identity. It is only an inheritance, the fruit of his labor.
Each of us enters this world with nothing. We leave with nothing. So what is your chief priority? The world has been fixated these past few weeks with the new- born heir to the British throne. Before Kate Middleton and Prince William named their baby, the press was speculating how many billions of dollars boy George was worth.
How much value does he have? Really? He came into the world with nothing. He will leave this world with nothing. The billions of dollars he will manage are not his own. He only administers them for a season. If he is ever crowned king, he will serve only after his grandfather and father have had their opportunity. He will govern only for a season.
If you accumulate wealth. Good for you. Yet that is not where your treasure lies. If you live hand-to-mouth. If you find yourself struggling financially. Take heart. Your inheritance is found not in the things of this world.
B. Avoid the temptation to find meaning, security, contentment, happiness in the abundance of your things.
1. They are only things. They cannot bring lasting peace, contentment or joy. Over time, we grow tired of them. They break down. We move on. To other interests.
2. They can become rather expensive. As was once observed - two of the happiest days in a man’s life is one; the day when he gets his new toy. And the other, the day he sells it.
C. To find contentment, security and peace in our things makes NO sense at all. If you have ever met people who were driven by possessions you find them always striving and toiling to get ahead. So they can get the next new thing. Yet, they are never contented.
To be a slave to your possessions causes all sorts of pains and worries. The Savior calls us to focus on Him for true happiness and peace. Of what does your life consist? That is the question we each must ponder.
2. Your life consists in being rich toward God.
A. Christ became poor to make us rich.
1. Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin He came into this world to live with and among us. His cruel and humble birth was just a hint of what His life would be. Isaiah reminds us that he was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. Thus, the hymn writer would write, We are rich for He was poor; is not this a wonder? Therefore praise God evermore, here on earth and yonder (1)
2. In becoming poor for you, He has taken your misery and your guilt.
The Father placed the burden of your sin upon the back of His own dear Son and nailed Him to the bloody cross. It is there – at the cross and empty tomb that He exchanged your sin for His righteousness. For by His stripes you have been healed.
B. Become rich toward God when we see beyond ourselves.
1. Recognize God’s claim on you. Marked in the form of a cross and granted to you personally and individually on the day you were baptized. Paul explains it this way: “When we were baptized into Christ Jesus we were baptized into His death. We were buried with Him by our baptism so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father even so we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with Him in a death like His we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His”.
2. Use your possession consistent with His will. Possessions are not evil in and of themselves. Money is not the root of all evil – it is the love of money, which is the root of all evil. Possessions are gifts of God. How we use them, is the key. Do you use our possessions to proclaim praise? Or, do they possess you? That is the issue.
C. You are rich toward God when you look beyond this world to a life, which will never end.
1. Observe and perceive the transient character of life. We are but sojourners here. “I am but a stranger here – heaven is my home.”
2. Take notice of the limitations of earthly goods. The president of my seminary class Pr. Tom was quite a fellow. Whenever he would purchase a new car, he would drive it home, proceed to his garage, get out his hammer, and on the driver’s side front fender give it a whack! The first dent! “Tom! That car’s only has 10 miles on it!” I told him! “I know, and now I won’t have to lose any sleep over it either!” Does Tom take it a little to the extreme? Possibly! Nevertheless, he drives home an excellent point; perceive the limitations of earthly goods.
3. Rejoice in the assurance of your eternal destiny. You are not going to a place where moths will not eat nor do worms destroy, where rust and decay will not eat away at your true fortunes. Knowing that heaven is your true home enables you to enjoy the transient journey of this life and those few possessions, which might pass through your hands.
Of what does our life consist? Life’s value depends on your relationship to God. When God fills all of your life then you will find a proper use of your possessions. What you will find is that your life is certainly God’s gift. Life does not consist in having possessions or lacking possessions but in being right with God. For you are Christ’s richest treasure.
Let us all with gladsome voice stanza two, The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House