Friday, September 4, 2009

What would you do with $10 million?

"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' 18"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' 20"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?' 21"This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."
Luke 12:15b-21

Remember the two camps I said most elderly fall into? They either live in poverty, not having enough to take care of themselves or they have a great excess that ends up going to someone else on their death. The guy in this parable is clearly the latter, but do note that he didn’t make it to “elderly.” This man’s life was demanded of him in his prime. He had it all going on – top of the world – building new barns to fit his best-ever harvest. It was that magical moment that we all wait for, where we can put our feet up with a cold beverage, assess our fortune and determine, “I can retire in style!” He had worked hard, time to reap what he had sown.

Yes, it was, in more ways than one. Along the road to success, this man had been stingy with God. So the very night after his magical moment, he lost it all – everything he had worked so hard for – and worse, he lost his soul to an eternal hell. Heed the warning, friend: This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. This verse doesn’t say, “this could happen to you if…” or “careful that you might go the same way.” It says “This is how it will be with anyone [meaning every single person] who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Yikes. Better start being rich toward God. And how exactly do I go about that?

Well, for starters, we shouldn’t do what the guy in the parable did. When he had a good harvest, all he thought about was himself: I’ll have plenty for years to come; I can take life easy, eat drink and be merry. But this wasn’t his first mistake – back up to where he asks himself the question, “What shall I do?” I bet the story would have ended differently for this guy if he had answered the question in a “rich toward God” way. Instead of tearing down his barns were probably perfectly functional, he could have filled them to brimming and then given the excess to his extended family and neighbors, as a thank-you to God for the bountiful harvest.

What would you do if you suddenly came upon $10 million dollars? Maybe your first impulse is to say something like “buy a jaguar” or “pay off my house,” but then by number three or four on your wish list, you start to get generous and give a big gift to your favorite charity or pay off your mother-in-law’s house. Good for you, hypothetically, you are rich toward God.

Now, let me ask, what did you do the last time you came upon a little extra cash? Maybe $50 or $500?. In such past experiences, have you been rich toward God? Did you use it all for yourself? Or did you tithe on it and maybe even give some of it to someone else with a need, since you didn’t expect to get it anyway? Did you thank God for it? Or did you think it was your lucky day?

Let’s not make the same mistake as the farmer in the parable. When we get a chance to ask ourselves that cherished question – What shall I do with this extra money that I wasn’t expecting – let’s take a prudent pause before we store it away so we can live fat and happy later in life. First, we should thank God for the unexpected harvest and then ask Him how He would have us use it.

Contemplate this: Maybe God is blessing me so that I can bless someone else.

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