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Guard yourself from greed

March 23, 2023

Daily Scripture

Luke 12:13-21

13 Someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus said to him, “Man, who appointed me as judge or referee between you and your brother?”
15 Then Jesus said to them, “Watch out! Guard yourself against all kinds of greed. After all, one’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “A certain rich man’s land produced a bountiful crop. 17 He said to himself, What will I do? I have no place to store my harvest! 18 Then he thought, Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. That’s where I’ll store all my grain and goods. 19 I’ll say to myself, You have stored up plenty of goods, enough for several years. Take it easy! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself. 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool, tonight you will die. Now who will get the things you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 This is the way it will be for those who hoard things for themselves and aren’t rich toward God.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Like the parable of the sheep and the goats (cf. Matthew 25:31-45), this sad parable stressed a basic kingdom principle: “One’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions” (verse 15). Both Colossians 3:5 and Ephesians 5:5 called greed a type of “idolatry,” of loving something more than God. Jesus’ story reminded us that this life, and any material assets we enjoy in it, will end. Then the only question is, “Who will get all the ‘stuff’ I’ve accumulated?” Only God can (and does) offer us eternity.

  • The man in Jesus’ story never asked himself, “How much do I need? How much is enough?” As he pondered what to do about his overstuffed barns, he carefully avoided the idea that “Maybe I could give away some of this huge surplus I have.” How easy or hard is it for you to be generous with the money, time or “stuff” you have? What wishes or fears get in the way of living generously?
  • How do you understand Jesus’ inspiring phrase about being “rich toward God”? Living generously should be part of our “Methodist DNA.” Methodism’s founder John Wesley spoke of “comprehensive charity” at the end of his sermon “The Reward of the Righteous” to a society that lived Jesus’ words: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto ME.” * What kinds of choices can you make, in day-to-day life, to become “rich toward God”?

Lord Jesus, whenever my life ends, I want to have stored my greatest treasure with you, not left it behind for an auctioneer to dispose of. Guide me into the kind of life that is rich toward you. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie serves as the Student Discipleship Program Director with Resurrection Students. She has nearly 20 years of volunteer and professional ministry experience and loves walking alongside and encouraging others in their spiritual journey. Mikiala is blessed to be an adoptive aunt and godmother to many kiddos and lives with her 10-pound Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie.

Greed can be a sneaky thing. It’s one thing to visibly rack up personal possessions at the expense of others… that’s what happens in the story Jesus tells in Luke 12:13-21 where a rich man stores up all of his goods so he can live off of them for years and years, only to discover that he had only one more night to live and would not be able to live off those goods as he’d planned. We get it! That’s greedy.

Greed is sneaky however, when it gets wrapped up in other circumstances and situations in life.

I struggle with anxiety. If that’s not a struggle for you, I’d describe my personal struggle in its simplest terms as being trapped in a hamster wheel of severe overthinking. What that looks like in my life is being able to confidently think through and make some decisions while others get caught up in the hamster wheel and then you’re just stuck.

Logically, I’ll read Luke 12:13-21 and understand that as a follower of Christ I am called to be generous with what I have rather than store it all up for myself.

So, I’ll walk down the street or drive up next to someone who presents as being in need or less fortunate and I’ll know my duty as a follower of Jesus is to be generous. But then anxiety will creep up.

What if I pull out my wallet and it becomes an opportunity for someone to steal it? What if I give what I can and it’s not enough and they ask for more? What if this person isn’t safe? What if this is a set-up and this person is supposed to distract me while someone else comes and hurts me? What if someone else sees me being generous and then targets me for a crime? What if I get hurt and there’s no one around to tell my long-distance family what happened? What if someone follows me to my car? What if someone follows me home?

Welcome to my special brand of anxiety.

Where greed can sneak in is between the exhaustion that comes from battling with anxiety and choosing not to find a work around. Sometimes I can get so exhausted from the mental battle that I forget to think creatively about how answer the call to be generous in spite of my struggle.

I forget that even if I can’t win against the hamster wheel of thoughts outside on the street… I can still be generous through giving opportunities with apps on my phone. I can still discover how to be generous with my time. I can still be generous with my love and countenance. Sometimes greed can be sneaky and mask itself as complacency.

That’s what I’ll be working on this week. What will you be working on?

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Click here if you’d like to read the full text of Wesley’s heartfelt sermon.