The poor man and the rich man
Luke 12: 16-21 (NRSVA)
16 Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” 18 Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” 20 But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’
Be careful what you wish for. The Brothers Grimm tell a tale of a rich man who turns away a stranger at the door. The next morning he discovers that the stranger granted three wishes to a poor man living nearby who offered him hospitality. Greedy and desperate, egged on by his equally greedy wife, the rich man races after the stranger to offer him hospitality next time and demand three wishes for himself. The stranger allows him the wishes, but warns him they might not be to his advantage. Sure enough the rich man, irritated by his overworked horse stumbling on the way home, wishes for it to break its neck. Being miserly, he then has to carry the horse’s gear back and thinks resentfully of his wife comfortably at home. He wishes for her to be stuck on the saddle which promptly disappears. When he gets home his wife demands he uses his last wish to free her.
How quickly do our possessions become something which traps us? Things so easily become a kind of material noise, blocking our ability to experience the richness of God’s providence.
Lord, free me from the tyranny of more.
More possessions, more money, more status, more power, more friends.
Grant me the freedom of less.
Not less to live on. But less to weigh me down. Less to guard. Less to compete for. Less to fight. Less to lose.
Teach me to love who and what I have. To see where my true treasure lies.
In good years and in bad, help me not to build bigger barns, but to open more doors
That all might share the richness of your harvest.