"Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'" Luke 12:15 (NIV)
"On your mark. Get set. Go!!" my husband shouted as our three kids began the M&M race.
The rules were simple. Each child had a bowl in a separate corner of the family room. In the middle of the floor sat a huge bowl of M&M's. The kids were to transport their candies one tablespoon at a time back to their individual bowls. If any dropped on the floor, they couldn't pick them up.
The most important rule was this: when the timer rang, they had to stop in place. If the kids weren't sitting in their corner holding their bowl, all their M&M's would be forfeited.
The clincher? We wouldn't tell them how long the timer would be set.
Four-year-old Spencer, the family clown, giggled as he dashed back and forth, candies flying off his spoon. He kept going, thinking he would get the most by hurrying and scurrying.
Methodical Mitchell was slow and careful so he could balance more candies on the spoon, not drop any and fill his bowl to the brim. But he forgot about the timer.
Big sister Kenna quickly clued in to the "catch" of the game. She too was careful transporting her M&M's. But after a few trips, she sat down with bowl in lap and waited.
Moments later the timer went off. Spencer dove for his bowl. Mitchell, who was meticulously scooping, realized all of his tedious effort had come to nothing. Both boys were without a single M&M.
In her corner sat their sister, now the proud owner of everyone's candies. One boy began to complain, the other to cry. They wanted their candy! We had them calm down to listen as we finished the Bible lesson. There was a point to this shenanigan.
My husband read the story of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. This man had a prosperous farm that earned him quite a deal of money. Instead of using his wealth to bless others, he tore down his barns and built bigger ones to stash his stuff.
However, that very night, life's timer would go off and he would die. All of his earthly possessions would be of no value to him. In fact, they would be left for others. We related this story to our family game that day.
You know, when I step back and look around, it's easy to see how I can seek excessive earthly treasures too. I spend money on things I don't need instead of giving to feed the poor or reaching out to people with the good news of Christ. Clothes, out-on-the-town outings, or money spent on luxuries for ourselves can fill our home and heart. I'm not only talking about really expensive items or trips. It can be as simple as a pair of sandals on sale.
Even though three pairs of sandals sit in my closet that are in good condition, I can justify spending $15 on new ones. They're cute, match my favorite blue shirt and are half price! And I sure do want to get to the store early so my size is still there.
Do I really need them? No. Do I want them? Yes. And here's where I have to do some soul searching and re-read the story of the greedy farmer from Luke12:15. In it, we're warned, "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'"
Am I hoarding my money for an abundance of possessions? Could I limit myself by setting a budget for splurges (like those sandals) and spend the money I save on needful things?
While there is merit in saving for a rainy day, we should also share that which God has given us. This is exactly what our daughter did that day with her M&M's and her two baby brothers!
Dear Lord, show me where I can spend less on myself and more on others. All I have belongs to You. May I use it for Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
A Life That Says Welcome, Simple Ways to Open Your Heart & Home to Others by Karen Ehman
The NIV Real Life Devotional Bible for Women with 366 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team on everyday life.
Reflect and Respond:
Keep track of what you spend on items that aren't necessities. How could you spend that money in a way that would help someone else?
What areas are strongholds for you in the struggle with greed? Pray about what action God would have you take to curb your cravings for more.
Proverbs 28:25, "The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper." (NIV)
© 2013 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
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Matthews, NC 28105