Material things don’t bring happiness

Published 10:49pm Friday, April 8, 2011

Only 2 percent of Americans farm, but these folk are so productive that they feed the world.

The farmers I know are fine people, but Jesus told a familiar story in Luke 12 about a farmer who was a fool.

This man’s crops brought forth abundantly and he wouldn’t have to work for a long time. His only problem was warehousing since there was no room for his crop. He determined to tear down his barns, build bigger ones and enjoy his wealth.

This man’s perspective was wrong in two ways.

First, he was short-sighted. He believed he was the master of his destiny. In the story he used “my” five times, not realizing that everything we have is on loan from God.

The Bible teaches stewardship. This means that we are only temporary custodians of what God gives us and one day we’ll give account to him (Romans 14:12).

Nor did this man consider death. He presumed he’d live to a ripe, old age enjoying his money. But death comes to all, and we most often don’t know when it will come. The Arabs have a proverb: “Death is a black camel which kneels at the gates of all.”

Second, he was selfish. The farmer was more concerned about empty barns than empty stomachs. He was more concerned about stowing up than bestowing on others.

He was like Edith in the children’s story: “Edith lived in a little world, bounded on the north, east, south and west by Edith.”

It’s interesting that our world would call this farmer a hero! The bumper sticker motto many live by is “the one who dies with the most toys wins.” So we spend our lives accumulating stuff.

The Self Storage Association reports that one out of 11 Americans rent storage, and 50 percent of these store items won’t fit in their houses. And now there’s even a new industry called “cloud computing” whereby we can rent servers to store music and files that overrun our personal computers.

We Americans are pretty adept at accumulating stuff, but Jesus said things do not make life worthwhile (Luke 12:15).

Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel woke one day in 1888 to read his own obituary! The newspaper made a mistake since it was Nobel’s brother, Ludvig, who died. Nobel was shocked to see he was remembered as a merchant of death because he invented dynamite in 1867. It was a wake-up call for him and he set about changing his obituary.

We remember him now for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The life-altering choices we make today will affect the measure of our lives and the confidence we’ll have when we meet God face-to-face.

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