And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21 (emphasis added)
I honestly do not remember why or when I went to the trouble of circling all the personal pronouns in this passage in my Bible. I suspect it was a sermon somewhere sometime. But the circles are all still there, and it really does paint a clear picture. The “rich fool” in this parable was totally self-absorbed and focused first and foremost on his own comfort level. This point seems to be central to Jesus’ parable…and to God’s perspective on giving.
I cannot think about the concept of “mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, etc.” without thinking about the seagulls in Disney-Pixar’s Finding Nemo. Remember these guys?
I suppose there are a lot of ways to measure how much you or I “give” to something. For example, maybe you have a boss who expects you to give “one hundred, ten percent” and measures you that way. Or maybe you had a coach in school who wanted you to “leave it all on the field” and measured your play that way. Maybe you have had fundraising campaigns in your church which talked about “not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice” and measured the effectiveness of your giving that way. Maybe you had a teacher or professor who gave you a grade for “class participation” and measured your contribution to class discussion in that manner. Those are all meaningful ways to measure what we bring to the table in various settings.
I have heard of very wealthy people who give hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars away every year. Is that the best measure of their heart? Would that be the best measure of my own heart…how much I give away? Possibly.
But, reading this parable from Jesus, here is what scares me…
What if God’s way of measuring my heart is by measuring how much I keep for myself? How would you measure up then?
Yep. Me too.