Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. (v15)He then goes on to describe how the rich fool decides that he has accumulated enough stuff ("ample goods" v19) to last him for many years, so he can relax, eat, drink and be merry (retire?). Whereupon God himself calls the rich man a fool (v20) because his soul was to be required of him that very night. Jesus finishes the story with
So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. (v21)Oof! That hits this post-modern, boomer-consumer where it hurts.
And guess what the Benedict's Way (see previous post here) chapter we looked at yesterday was? Possessions. Cyprian, third-century bishop of Carthage is quoted:
Their property held them in chains...which shackled their courage and choked their faith...and throttled their souls...They think of themselves as owners, whereas it is they rather who are owned; enslaved as they are to their own property. (p99)Being rich toward God is shackled, choked and throttled by the things we allow to own us. Benedict's Way commentator, Lonni Collins Pratt points out that
We have lost a sense of enough. (p100)...and,
...the unspoken statement of success we are taught all our lives: "I own; therefore I am." (p100)How then shall we overcome our disordered attachments? How do we get rich toward God? George MacDonald, also quoted in Benedict's Way, writes of the rich man who
...we shouldn't attach ourselves to things. That's not what things are for. (p101)
held his things lightly and who did not let them nestle in his heart, who was a channel and not a cistern, who was ever and always forsaking his money. (p99)What follows are some ways of not letting our stuff nestle in our hearts, of being channels for God's generosity rather than merely collectors. Lonni Collins Pratt in the "Going Inward" section of the chapter:
When you bring something new into your home, give something away. (p102)Enough, already.
Spend a day alone considering ways you can pare down the amount of stuff you possess. (p103)