And He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of possessions.” Luke 12:15
Abundance -- Did you notice the assumption implied in Jesus’ statement? It’s in the first part of this phrase – “not even when.” Jesus points out that even after we have all we could want, life is still not about what we own. If that’s true, then it raises a very important question. If life isn’t about accumulating possessions, then why are we so determined to chase after all the toys?
A few years ago you might have seen the bumper sticker that read, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” It’s not so popular today. Perhaps that’s because we have all the toys – and we still have aches in our hearts and emptiness in our souls. More than 66 percent of America homes have at least 3 televisions. Televisions in the average American home are on more than 6 hours a day. Americans watched television 250 billion hours last year, but they spent less than 3.5 minutes a day in meaningful conversation with their children.
The average American home has 2.1 vehicles. The size of the home has increased 55 percent since 1970, but the average family size has decreased by 13 percent. More than one-third on new home buyers considered a home theater as a must. Luxury homes (the ones where I get whatever I want) now represent 16 percent of the market.
The American model of consumption is the dream of the world. Have it all, right now! Jesus would be unwelcome in most pulpits. He is not a proponent of your best life today. A life that seeks more than enough is a sure sign of crushing, interior loneliness. We fill the closets while we empty our relationships.
The Greek is perisseuo. It’s about excess. Over the top. More than full. Beyond. Better than. Over and above. If your life circulates around this Greek adjective, you might want to seriously consider Jesus’ warning.
If abundance were the answer, Americans would be the happiest people in the history of Mankind. We would have fewer problems, greater compassion, deeper relationships and more meaningful existence than any people who ever walked the face of the earth. But the truth is far, far more painful. We live with the Midas touch. Our world has been turned into a commodity nightmare where everything that really matters has been converted into one more item on the sales list.
Jesus knew it was all tohu (vanity). So did Solomon – and he had everything. When do you suppose we will learn? What matters is what rescues and delivers. The rest is excess.