“HOW MUCH MORE IS MORE ENOUGH” Pastor YAU
Text: Luke 12:13-21
1) “I Just can’t wait.” One of the stories in the comic strip Peanuts goes like this: Lucy wasn’t happy with her small bedroom and was envious of her brother Linus’ spacious one. One day she said to her brother, “I can’t wait to see you grow older.” When her brother asked why she was so anxious to see him grow older, she said, “Well, when guys grow older, they all move out of their homes so I may move to your bedroom.”
2) Something has never changed: While many things are changing in our world everyday, one thing has never changed and that is man’s heart, particularly his greed. From the day Eve wasn’t happy with all the delicious fruits in the Garden of Eden to the most recent oil company CEO who took a lucrative $M400 to retire when the poor pays 35% more per gallon of gas compared to that just a year ago.
GREED IS EVIL: “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love (or greed) of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1Timothy 6:9-10)
1) Greed disobeys God: If we truly believe that God is sovereign in creation, ownership and control of all things in this world, we should also believe that only He has the authority to assign what and how much to each one of us. It was greed in Eve’s heart which pushed her to revolt against God and His sovereignty in assigning which tree or fruits she and her husband should eat. We want more than God has allowed us to have and that is evil.
2) Greed ruins lives: It is so true when Paul said that “greed traps many people into foolish and harmful desires.” (6:9) After the fall of Jericho, it was greed in the heart of one man, Achan, who desired money and fine clothing of the city which God had forbid anyone of taking that led to the death of many Israelis, his own life and that of his family. (Joshua 7) In modern day stories, so many greedy people ruin their career, their future, their family and even their own lives. This certainly is evil.
3) Greed separates man from God: Paul observed many wandered away from their faith in God because of “eager of money” (greed) (v.10) is not only something of the past but it happens throughout history. We have seen many once faithful and dedicated Christians were drawn away from faith and God because of their desire to get rich. Their wandering from faith and God may get them riches but the price they paid is devastating: many broken marriages, rebellious children, tarnished reputation, emotional and spiritual emptiness are only a few to mention and all these are certainly evil.
4) Greed brings grief: “Some people, eager for money, have pierced themselves with many grieves. () Being greedy is never a happy journey from beginning to end. It is an agonizing process: never have enough, always want more. The rise and fall of many political leaders and business giants and the devastating suffering of millions who were affected by their greed tells us it is truly evil.
LESSONS FROM THE BIBLE: (Luke -21) No one may list all the lessons we may draw from this passage: there are too many. Let us point out a few obvious ones so we may remember:
1) Greed is universal: It is universal in time, Bible time and time of today, and it is universal to all people, the have and the have not. What the story and the parable recorded in the Bible repeat millions of times anywhere and everywhere in history regardless of culture, race, status and socio-economic condition. Greed is not limited to the rich but is also in every heart including the poor. It is greed that the older brother in the story wanted to control all the properties. It is also greed the younger brother wanted to have his share. Greed was there before and after the great harvest the already rich man had. We are all greedy on something, someway.
2) Greed never ends: Just as Paul says “love never ends,” in 1 Corinth.13:8, greed never ends either. People who want to justify their greed may say they are not greedy but just don’t have enough but look at the already rich man in the story here. He never feels that he already has enough. All you need to see is how greedy little kids want more new toys and how many more dresses many would buy to over stuff their already too-small wardrobes. Greed never sees how much is already there but sees how much more it still need to fill up the vacuum inside.
3) Greed never makes anyone rich: While some may measure rich by figures: how many, how much, how big, how high, how whatever. But we all know that no figure can ever be assigned to measure how rich is rich enough. True rich is not how much we have on the outside but how good we feel on the inside. Greedy people always feel they are not rich or at least not rich enough and therefore still need some more. In fact greed is very close to poor. Jesus also points out another kind of richness: rich in heaven, rich before God. Most greedy people want to be rich before fellow men, but wise people seek riches before God.
4) Greed is not free: In this story, God may take the life of this rich man and all he had he can never enjoy anything. Many greedy people spent their lives on getting more, better, bigger and higher and when they reach their goals, they have no time or life to enjoy their riches. Jesus explained that life is more important than what to eat or what to wear and in this case what to have. Again Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his life? Or what can a man give in exchange for his life?” (Matt. 16:26) It is wiser to pay attention to life, both life today and life eternal, than to seek for richer, more, bigger and higher. When your lease of life expires, being rich doesn’t matter.
WAYS TO COMBAT GREED: The reason I feel that fighting the power of greed is like combat in the battle field is that we were born with that vicious nature and it takes a combating attitude to harness its appetite.
1) Keep God close to heart: The only stronger power to conquer the power of greed is God and there is none other. When God is deep in our inner being, we are fully occupied and there is little room for greed to grow in us. King David described his personal satisfaction with the Lord in His life in Psalm 34:8 like this: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” When you have God, you don’t need anything else.
2) Learn to be content: Contentment is not a natural habit of life that’s why Paul said, “I have learned to be content whatever the situation may be.” (Phil. 4:11) He continued to say, “I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret to be content in any and every situation.” () While the world tries so hard to push on us the mindset “more is better”, we need to learn how to live within our means whatever the Lord may allow us to have. Happiness is seldom found in riches but is found in contentment. Learn to be happy with what you already have.
3) Pursue a higher purpose: Most animals live for survival. Few of them have purpose much less higher purpose. But men are much more than animals and life without purpose is meaningless. Unfortunately many people live their life only for survival like animals do. Those who have meaningful purpose stand out tall and special than the rest of their peers. Christians should have higher purpose of life than just survival like anybody else. Jesus’ purpose of life is to “accomplish the will of His Father.” (John 17:4) When we have a higher purpose of life, the grip of greed will lose its power on us. After Paul found his purpose of life, he testified that “Whatever was to my profit (things I used to consider important) I now consider loss (unimportant) for the sake of Christ.” (Phil. 3:7)
4) Trust the good will of God: The way Jesus introduced God as “Our Father” is both unique and practical. It is unique because no other religion teaches their god as someone man may approach like approaching his father. It is practical because that is exactly what man needs: a Father who understands his children and is willing and able to provide their needs. Jesus explained it clearly in Matt. 7:11 “If you (human fathers) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” The good will of God will never allow us to be in need and suffer from it without giving us the best. There is no need to “want more” once you trust God and His good will and power to provide.
1) “How big is big enough?” This is a question asked by a super church pastor to other super church pastors at a mission conference. While many super church pastors only care to grow their churches bigger and richer, this pastor sent out half of his members to over 40 smaller or dying churches in his city to help them revitalize and grow. Don’t look at how much you still want but look at how much you can give then the power of greed will lose its grip on your life.
2) Live a “Purpose Driven Life”: You are much more valuable than to live your life for survival. Find out the purpose God has in your life from His Word, the Bible, or read Rick Warren’s book and live your life on a higher level of purpose and meaning. The joy and satisfaction you may find when your life has a higher purpose is hard to describe. Start searching today and enjoy life tomorrow.
3) “In God We Trust”: The motto appears on our coins and bank notes did not get there for no reason. It reminds us that the ultimate guarantor of all the money one may have is never in a government but in God who is the sole creator and giver of all good things. If you believe in God, there is no need to ask for more all the time or be greedy. He knows what we need and will provide us all things at all time. Seek God and His kingdom first and all these things He will add to us daily. (Matt. 6:33)