And He said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
All of us tend to get caught in the snare of owning things. The world assesses a person’s net-worth based on the quantum of assets he owns. And so there is that rat-race mentality to acquire more and more. It has been said, “he who dies with the most toys wins.” Even Christians often fall prey to this scourge that sweeps through all humanity. All over we find people striving hard to add to their possessions, to gain more, believing that more will bring happiness, security, peace and joy. We live in an age of consumerism. We consume food, drink, entertainment, knowledge, gadgets, etc. We network and live in a generation that is connected through technology, and we abound in information, possessions and connections. Is this what life is all about? Jesus once said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mark 8:36).
Yet this is the characteristic of our generation. Men and women are lost in possessions, lost in information, lost in connections. These things have not brought the happiness the world promised it would bring. Instead, it has brought fragmentation, the disintegration of the family, secret sordid lives and lonely hearts. People are lost and searching for answers. But life is not about possessions. Life is not about information, nor how many connections one has. Life is about God. We were created for Him (See Isaiah 43:7 & Col 1:16b). We need to work for a living, but it is only the means to an end; the end being God Himself. Pope Benedict XVI stated; man needs his daily bread of course, but above all he needs the true bread which is Christ himself (Zenit 11091309).
In the same chapter of Luke 12 above, Jesus indicated that Life is about seeking Him and His kingdom (Luke 12:31). Then further down He adds this warning: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). Here lies the central issue. Do we treasure possessions, information and connections? Or do we treasure the Lord?
Finally, Jesus puts it bluntly by saying; “Look, if anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mk 8:34-36). It is Jesus’ way of saying that he who dies with the most toys does not win, in fact, it’s just the opposite. He loses. He loses everything that matters including the thing that matters most: his own soul.
Application: This is the moment of decision for us, and what we have to decide is this: can we trust Jesus? Can we trust His different philosophy, which seems alien to the world in which we live? We need to take a good hard look at our lives and see what occupies our attention. What is the driving force behind it? Is it to accumulate more than our neighbours, is it to receive the status that comes with acquiring huge possessions? As Paul would say, Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:8).