The treasure God knows us to be
As Jesus warns, there are all kinds of greed. It might be about amassing money, land, or any tangible thing. But greed can also be about time, attention, approval, love, knowledge, power, control, being right, being in charge, or a thousand other things. Ultimately, though, greed is not about any of these things. They are just the symptoms or pointers to the deeper issue. The issue is not about quantity but a condition of the heart. Greed is really just a way of dealing with our own feelings of deficit and emptiness. It’s not so much about having enough but about being enough. When we believe ourselves to be deficient, when we lose belief in ourselves, when we feel we are not enough, then we get greedy. We use things and other people to fill the hole inside us.
How would we fill in the blanks in the following sentence: Greed deceives and convinces us that if we just have more ________ then we’ll be ________.
Greed uses external things to deal with internal matters and it rarely works. It leaves us wanting more, always seeking more money or the next word of approval. The thing is that greed steals and deprives us of what we most want. Greed thieves us of our lives. Greed works its deception and turns us back on ourselves and the grammar of our life soon becomes first person singular. “I will build larger barns.”
That doesn’t mean that possessions are inherently bad or wrong. The problem is when we give our possessions the power to name who we are. “Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions,” Jesus says. Somewhere deep within we already know this. We really do. This is not news for us. Think of our greatest hopes and dreams for any child. We probably pray that the child will find meaning and purpose in life; that they would look in the mirror and see their own beauty, that they would trust their own goodness and that they would discover their own holiness. The reason those things are our prayers, hopes and wishes is because somewhere deep within us we know and want those same things for our life. In those moments we catch a glimpse of the treasure that we are and want to be, the treasure God knows us to already be.
Adapted: Michael Marsh
Gospel Luke 12:13-21
A man in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.’ ‘My friend’, he replied ‘who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs.’
Then he told them a parable: ‘There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, ‘What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and all my goods in them, and I will say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time.” But God said to him, “Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?” So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place of making himself rich in the sight of God.’