“The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” – Proverbs 11:25
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” – Luke 6:38
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” – Luke 12:15
“And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” – Luke 12:18-20
I have a confession to make – I’m a hopeless book hoarder. For years, my dad and I were partners in crime, and my poor mother would cringe every Saturday morning as we returned from the flea market, hauling bags of used books purchased for as little as ten cents each. And to this day, I accumulate far more books than I’ll ever read.
I recently parted with several good Christian books at a yard sale. A friend of mine happened to pick up a book about healing from past hurts, and the Lord used it to help her tremendously. In the following months, she referenced the book constantly as one that gave her greater understanding of God’s work in her life. She thanked me for it over and over again, and I finally had to come clean. It had sat on my shelf for years, and I had never even found the time to read it. But in spite of my hoarding, God had turned that book into a blessing.
In Luke 12, Jesus directly addresses hoarded resources in the broad context of eternity. Surrounded by a crowd so great that they are practically tripping over each other, Jesus’ disciples are with Him in the middle of the mayhem (Verse 1). On the fringe of the crowd are the scribes and Pharisees. They are seething with anger over the scathing rebuke they received from Jesus in the previous chapter (Luke 11:37-54) – a rebuke that included a call to give alms (gifts for the poor) out of their own hoarded resources.
But despite the tangible tension in the air, Jesus is determined to seize this teaching moment, as He challenges the values of the Pharisees. He urges His disciples to reject the materialism and self-reliance that is so prevalent among their religious leaders and rely instead on the protection and provision of God. And sandwiched between the timeless truths about God’s provision for sparrows, ravens, and lilies (Luke 12: 6-7, 24, 27) is a brief parable about heaven’s take on hoarding (Verses 16-21).
We start with a rich man. He’s had a great year, and now, this rich man is getting richer. And he takes great satisfaction in that. So much so, that he is consumed with the management of his surplus. And in that management, there is never a thought given to the idea of giving. His sad, self-centered response to blessing is the concept of bigger barns – tearing down the barns he already has and building bigger, better storage space for his personal stockpile. His only goals are lifelong security and personal ease, and there’s no consideration for God, for others, or for eternity.
Little does the rich man know that the time to enjoy his surplus is quickly coming to an end. And this man who had so much in life will go into eternity empty-handed, as he squandered any chance to lay up treasures in heaven.
We shake our heads at the shortsightedness and selfishness of this unnamed rich man, but how many divine opportunities have passed us by? Any blessing we receive – from the simplest possession to our biggest windfall – can open the door for us to be a blessing to others (Proverbs 11:25-26, Luke 6:38, II Corinthians 9:6-11, Philippians 2:3-4). But the temptation is to take our ease – to eat, drink, and be merry in our own little world – and to build bigger barns for all of our stuff, rather than paying the blessings forward in Jesus’ name.
May God forgive us for the blessings we have hoarded. May God forgive us for being so stingy with the blessings we bestow on His work and on others – as if our Heavenly Father has ever been stingy with us (Deuteronomy 8:18, Psalm 34:10, 81:10, I Chronicles 29:14, Malachi 3:8-10, Matthew 6:31-32, Romans 8:32, Philippians 4:19, Hebrews 13:5).
Starting today, let’s tear down our barns and instead build something that will last for eternity. May our barns be few, our blessings transferable, and may our security rest in the Giver of all things.
What are you hoarding? What resources has God given you that you’re not even using? Ask God to show you what you might be able to pass on to others for His glory.