March 12, 2018

How Much Is Enough?

Proverbs 30:7-9; Luke 12:13-21

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

—  1 Timothy 6:6

In Jesus’ parable, a man receives far more than he needs for his health and well-being. But instead of sharing his abundance with people who don’t have enough, he hoards the surplus and plans to take life easy for himself. He thinks only of himself and his own desires.

Greed always wants to gather more than is needed—and it refuses to share.

The greedy one’s eyes are bigger than its stomach. Greed, says a Chinese proverb, is like a snake that wants to swallow an elephant. Greed’s motto is concise: “Never enough!” Bigger barns and garages and walk-in closets are just the beginning.

Death will stop greed in its path and expose its folly: more is not better. After all, you can’t take it with you. Everything we have acquired on earth is useless to us after we’re gone. It is better, says Jesus, to store up treasures that last, that death cannot swallow, that show wisdom toward God.

Greed is a problem of the “self,” of what “I” need for the good life. Dying to our “selves” through Jesus is the beginning of wisdom that knows the meaning of “enough.” Self-denial in Christ’s name leads to the truly good life. Daily surrender to the Lord and his Spirit builds up riches that last. These are riches that lead us to love God above all and our neighbors as ourselves.

Dear Lord, “give me neither poverty nor riches.” Help me not to be greedy but to rely on you for what I need, and to share willingly. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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