Friday, 10 August 2007

Enough already!

Some things have aligned in an interesting way this week. Last Sunday's Gospel was Luke 12.13-21. The section heading in my ESV is "The Parable of the Rich Fool." In it, Jesus says,
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)
...the unspoken statement of success we are taught all our lives: "I own; therefore I am." (p100)

...we shouldn't attach ourselves to things. That's not what things are for. (p101)
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
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)

Spend a day alone considering ways you can pare down the amount of stuff you possess. (p103)
Enough, already.


Dave Baker said...
Hmmmmm..... I have a lot of stuff too. I liked the past post, Living Small. Perhaps we live larger than we need to because we have so much stuff. I could certainly pare down - a lot. I'd need a big disposal bin to hold all the excess! But wait, that's what church rummage sales are for.

Dave Baker said...
Hmmmmmmmmm..... I have a lot of stuff too. I was thinking pack to you post on Living Small. Maybe we all live so large because we have so much stuff. I coulds certainly use a good paring down - I'd need a huge garbage bin! But wait, that's what rummage sales are for.

Gene said...
I have a friend who reduced stuff with three boxes: keep, give-away, trash. This same friend is wondering about he and his wife picking 100 things a day for 7 days of which to get rid...1,400 things!
Garth said...
Some excellent ponderings here! Well done! It reminds me of two or three things. First, a bumper sticker I encounter on several occasions while living in Calgary: "More is never enough." Sad, and makes a virtue out of the deadly sin of greed. (By the way, this summer I preached a series on the seven deadlies). Second, you can check out on the web Canadian singer Jane Siberry (not sure of spelling), who said she sold her comfie house, downsized radically, and has no fixed address--or last time I checked her site that was the case, although it's been some time now. Third, I'm reminded of our former Alberta Synod bishop, Bob Jacobson, who now is an RC. He lived for years in the Donelda area very frugally and simply as a prophetic witness against the materialistic sickness of our times.
The Lord bless you & yours (congrats by the way on the birth of your new grandson!)
More Enough, Already « GENEralities: said...
[...] Gene I preached on this out of Luke 12.32-34 this morning and with reference to my previous post here. I also quoted Randy Alcorn’s excellent and challenging book, Money, Possessions and [...]