Dan, an only child, was a single guy living at home, caring for his sickly father and working in the family business. One evening, at an investment meeting, he met the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He could hardly breathe as he muttered: "I may look like an ordinary guy, but within a year, my sickly father will die and I will inherit $200 million." The woman was very impressed and asked for his business card. Three weeks later she became his step-mother.
To those who obsess to possess, Jesus says: "Take care!" In other words, take preventative, proactive, preemptive measures to ensure that you do not get infected with the greed-need virus, because one day it will all disappear.
Leo Tolstoy wrote a story about a successful peasant farmer who was not satisfied with his lot. He obsessed to possess more of everything. One day he received a novel offer. For 1000 rubles, he could buy all the land he could walk around in a day. The only catch in the deal was that he had to be back at his starting point by sundown. Early the next morning he started out walking at a fast pace. By midday he was very tired, but he kept going, covering more and more ground. Well into the afternoon he realized that his greed had taken him far from the starting point. He quickened his pace and as the sun began to sink low in the sky, he began to run; knowing that if he did not make it back by sundown the opportunity to become a rich landholder would be lost. As the sun began to sink below the horizon he came within sight of the finish line. Gasping for breath, his heart pounding, he called upon every bit of strength left in his body and staggered across the line just before the sun disappeared. He immediately collapsed, blood streaming from his mouth. In a few minutes he was dead. Afterwards, his servants dug a grave. It was not much over 6 feet long and 3 feet wide.
In the end all that a person really owns is a 6 by 3-foot piece of earth. Therefore, Jesus says: "Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out" (Lk. 12:33). A person who has a purse that will not wear out is not afraid to open it up to bless others. Abundance always invites gift-giving not an obsession to posses more. Therefore, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed (Lk. 12:15). Lay up treasures in heaven and become rich by blessing others as you have been blessed.
Roger H. Lemke is Pastor of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church in St. James City.