Entering into someone else’s argument seldom leads to a good end. No matter how reasonable the side presented might be, it is never the whole story. We fail to see the “other side” as adding any validity to the big picture. In this case, a man wants Jesus to force his brother to share the family inheritance. Sharing seems like a good principle; but without the details, it is hard to discern whether the brother who won’t share is in the right or in the wrong. Jesus wisely sidesteps that invitation, asking why anyone would think he held the deciding vote.
Jesus then moves on to address the issue of greed. We have no idea who is guilty of this particular sin, the brother who won’t share or the brother who demands a share. Jesus makes it clear that the sin of greed is not in possessing things but in being possessed by them. Both brothers may be guilty of this sin. Perhaps the one with the inheritance had little, while the one who did not receive the inheritance had much. Regardless of who was in the “right,” the sin of greed is Jesus’ concern. He warns the brothers to “Take care! Be on your guard.”
Greed never seems as obvious to us as it does to others. We have good reasons for our desires and wants. The culture around us encourages us to gather as much as we can.
Creating moments of reflection that allow us to consider whether we truly need the “next thing” may save us from being possessed by our stuff. Praying before we head out to shop may change how we view our needs. Our possessions neither define us nor secure our future.
Dear God, may I desire you more than anything I can possess. Make me a generous giver rather than a greedy consumer. Fill me with a hunger for things that are eternal. Amen.
The Hosea passage portrays the agony of God, who is torn between the demands of judgment and of grace. When justice and grace are weighed in God’s balances, grace always prevails. Psalm 107’s language applies to many experiences of alienation. Lostness, hunger, thirst, and weariness characterize the condition of those cut off from God; yet if they seem abandoned, they are not. God has guided them out of the desert and back to their homes once again. The freedom to live in goodness is the subject of Colossians. The passage points read- ers beyond “things that are on earth” to “things that are above.” Freedom from greed is the focus of Luke 12:13-21, a text that addresses the dif cult issue of how the Christian is to deny the temptations of materialism while living in a very material world. The farmer is not condemned because he worked to produce a bumper crop, but his demise is viewed as tragic because he wrongly believed that his bulging barns would be his salvation.
• Read Hosea 11:1-11. God’s constant love, mercy, and grace allow for transformation. What would it be like if our sys- tems employed a justice designed to transform?
• Read Psalm 107:1-9, 43. From what captivity has God redeemed you?
• Read Colossians 3:1-11. What do you need to take away from your life in order to clothe yourself with the practices that re ect the image of God?
• Read Luke 12:13-21. How can you feel more satis ed with what you have? How will this allow you to share more with others?
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