Be Possessed by Abundance

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Luke 12:13–21 ESV

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Consider This

When we pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” we must ask, What is mercy? Jesus died on the cross for our sins so we could have eternal life. Yes, that’s mercy, but mercy is far more expansive. I like the way Paul put it in his letter to the Romans: “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life!” (5:10 ESV).

The entire life of the eternal Son of God is the mercy of God. His conception, birth, life, words, teaching, healing, signs, miracles, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and return: all the mercy of God.

This warning yesterday to “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy,” is a merciful word from God. Jesus knows where all the land mines are buried along the pathway of human life. He knows all the temptations, pitfalls, and problems, and he mercifully teaches us how to steer clear of such disasters. This prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” prepares us to recognize mercy when it appears and to respond with humility. It’s a way of saying to God, unless you show me your mercy by directing my path, I have no hope of finding my way. This Jesus Prayer, as it has been called down through the ages, attunes our hearts and minds to listen to him. We get another warning today: “Be on your guard against all [kinds of greed], for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

If ever there were a warning for our age, particularly in our North American context, it is this one. Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions. Life consists in the possession of abundance. There are two kinds of people: abundance people and scarcity people. An abundance person is possessed by God. A greedy person is possessed by scarcity.

The story Jesus tells today teaches us that no matter how much a scarcity person can amass, it will never be enough. For an abundance person, no matter how little they have, there is always more than enough. Many wealthy people are ironically scarcity people. They keep adding more because they can never have enough. Many poor people are ironically abundance people. It’s why when people visit parts of the developing world they often come back talking about how the people they encountered had very little and yet they were unbelievably generous and extraordinarily happy.

Whoever is possessed by God is in possession of abundance. The great antidote to greed is generosity. In the kingdom of God, the more you give, the more you possess. So wherever in life you feel as though you may not have enough—give more of that away. It will surprise you. It will lead to the abundant life.

The Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a son/daughter.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a saint.

The Question

How about it—abundance person or scarcity person—where do you trend? What is your next step?