As a boy growing up on the farm, one thing I liked to do was go with my Dad to clearing sales. A clearing sale is when a farmer sells a farm, and the new owner doesn’t need or want any of the equipment and goods, and the old owner doesn’t want to take them either. Often times it’s because the original owner is retiring.
At a clearing sale everything goes under the hammer. The ones I had most fun at were farms where nothing had been thrown out for years.
There was every plough ever bought, from a single furrow horse-drawn plough to multi-furrow ones. There were piles of scrap metal. A pile of ‘junk’ might be sold for a guinea . An entire life’s work went under the hammer: a couple of guineas here, a hundred there (A guinea was one pound one shilling ($2.10) where the pound went to the owner and the shilling to the auctioneer).
These were the lucky ones; they got cash to enjoy their retirement. Sometimes it was a deceased estate where a life’s work was sold, and the money went to the estate. All those things accumulated—and none could fit in the coffin! At the end of the sale the unsold items went to the dump.
In Luke 12:13-21 Jesus tells the story of the rich fool. Here was a man who accumulated lots of possessions. He had stocks and shares and stored treasures in the local storage facility. He had enough to retire on, and put his feet up. Time to party, eat, drink and be merry. But God wasn’t impressed. God’s assessment was, “You fool!”
That night he died, and then in the following days the kids fought over who would get the goodies.
In this chapter of Luke, two more pieces of linked teaching are recorded. Next we see the hardest command in the Bible to obey, “Do not worry!” Well I think it’s hard to obey—I’m a natural born worrier. I worry that I worry too much!
In 21st century Australia we have it so good. Yet we worry about having enough. Over the past couple of years I have had to downsize. If I’d still been on the farm I would have been one of those farmers who didn’t throw much away. After all, you never know when that scrap piece of steel will be needed! But because my focus is now caring for my wife Julie, it was relatively easy.
Funny how caring for someone helps you focus on what is important.
It also made me realise just how blessed I am. With the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), I don’t have too many worries about how I will care for Julie. Jesus ends this section of Luke 12 with the call in verse 33 to sell your possessions and give the money to the poor, and store up treasure in heaven. Well I didn’t sell my possessions; I gave them away so as to bless others.
The third section from verse 35 tells us to be ready for the return of Jesus. And he finishes with the statement in verse 48, “To whom much is entrusted, much will be required.” In this country we have indeed been entrusted with much. Some of us have been entrusted with children to raise to be good citizens. Sadly with long work hours and phones/technology, some of our children are ignored. Do you have children? Much will be required!
We are a financially rich nation. We are wealthier than at any other point in history. Yes there are still some who are genuinely poor in Australia, but we don’t have the slums of pre-WWI. We have financial wealth – Much will be required!
Don’t misunderstand, we are saved by grace! It truly is a free gift from God. Our salvation is assured. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that salvation is a gracious gift from God. BUT Paul goes on to say in verse 10 that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. James tells us that faith without works is dead.
What we do does matter. Our deeds aren’t to earn points with God. Instead they are a loving response to a God who has given us everything.
Soon it will be Christmas. Believe it or not, Christmas isn’t a celebration of consumerism. It is a celebration of God’s gift to people of a saviour. How can we, who have been entrusted with much, honour God this Christmas? Yes, celebrate and give gifts.
But how about we follow the example the Christ, and give to those who cannot reciprocate? Baptist World Aid has their usual Little Book of Big Hearted Gifts. There is the Be Hope Christmas appeal on Christmas day. There is also many ways to help local people from Christian run Domestic Violence groups, through Refugee Services, and others that help single mothers.
We have been entrusted with much! Are we ready to give an account? Or are we like the rich fool hoarding our stuff?