Friday, June 29, 2018

Do You Have Enough? (Luke 12:13-21) by Rev. Dr. Bryan Kile

Let me start with the title: Do you have enough? Now, I’m sure you’re thinking: enough what? Enough of anything? Enough money? Enough space in your house? Enough stuff?

Many people think that if they could only win the lottery, they would have enough money; they would be set for life. People who win the lottery think they then have enough. But does that kind of money really solve all your problems? I read where 70% of lottery winners lose it all within seven years.

Someone has suggested that we have become a culture of clutter. The comedian, George Carlin, is quoted as saying that “the essence of life is trying to find a place to put all your stuff.” The self-storage business has certainly capitalized on that thought. According to the Self-Storage studies, in March of this year there were approximately 50,000 self-storage facilities in the United States. They note that, at the same point in time, nearly on in ten US households currently rent a self-storage unit. That has increased from 1 in 17 in the last 25 years—an increase of approximately 65%.

I know from personal experience. When I retired ten years ago and moved to Houston, we downsized from a house with a two car garage to a townhouse with a carport. We took ten Jeep Cherokee loads of “stuff” to the Hospice Thrift Shop in the area we were moving from. We never missed a single thing.

What I have said so far about money and possessions is nothing new to you. You have known it all your adult lives. You just didn’t want to admit it, but what is really important is to take a look at life from a godly viewpoint. Or as Ray Charles put it, “Live every day like it’s your last, ‘cause one day you’re gonna be right.” In other words, collecting stuff is not what will be important on that last day of your life. You can have barns full of “stuff” or banks full of money, and it will make no difference to you. I mean face it—have you ever seen a hearse pulling a u-haul trailer?

I believe the man in Jesus’ parables missed the point. The Lord prospered him, but he wanted to keep it all for himself. He forgot the Old Testament command to tithe. I believe it is better to eliminate some of the “stuff” and give more to the Lord’s work.

I read about a professor at USC who studied people’s attitudes about money over a twenty-five year period. He found that “many people are under the illusions that the more money we make, the happier we’ll be. We put all of our resources into making money at the expense of our family and our health... The problem is we don’t realize that our material wants increase with the amount of money we make. The study discovered happiness was related to:
·         Quality time with loved ones,
·         Good health,
·         Being friendly,
·         Having an optimistic outlook,
·         Exercising self-control, and
·         Possessing a deep sense of ethics.”
·         Duh! Isn’t that what Jesus was teaching 2000 years ago?

You see, in this parable, Jesus is talking about more than money or possessions or “stuff.” Jesus is talking about a higher calling in life. He is teaching that real happiness comes from a completely different way of life. Remember what the first question of the Westminster Catechism is? “What is the chief end of man?” Or, to put it in modern language: “What is the chief purpose of people’s existence?” The answer is: “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”

So what is it that is important for a happy life? Three things: First and foremost, is your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Second is a good relationship with others, and third is an optimistic outlook on life. “Stuff” and money don’t even make the list.

When you have a good relationship with God, when you walk daily with Jesus Christ, you’re well on your way to personal satisfaction. Remember in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus started out with what we now call the “Beatitudes.” Each one starts, “Blessed are those who...” I’m not encouraging you to repeat all nine of them, but I would encourage you to look them up later today in Matthew 5. You will notice that not one of them mentions “things.” When Jesus was saying in those beatitudes is that your trust in God is what will bring blessings to your life. When you are walking hand in hand with Jesus, day by day, life becomes a joyful time, a time of celebration.

We should be celebrating every day: celebrating the fact that all is forgiven, celebrating the fact that God loves us and cares a great deal about each and every one of us. We should be celebrating the fact that victory is certain because of our faith in Jesus Christ. And that, my friend, is a promise!

Paul tells us that Christians should be cultivating the “Fruit of the Spirit” in our lives. Those nine fruit are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NCV) Did you notice as I read those that every one of them is a positive, uplifting, happy characteristic? They are all part of celebrating the joy of Christian living.

The second thing that makes for a happy life is our relationship with others. Over the years, I have talked with many people who were miserable. When we talked about what it is that is bothering them, it almost always comes down to a troubled relationship with someone: a spouse, a child, some other family member, a neighbor, a friend. Your relationships with others are important to your happiness. Dr. Bernie Siegel has written extensively on healing from a spiritual standpoint. His writing isn’t necessarily Christian, but summing up briefly what he reports, it is clear that people in good relationships, especially marriages, are happier and live longer.

The Apostle Paul gives us some good advice for keeping happy relationships. He says, “Wish good for those who harm you; wish them well and do not curse them. Be happy with those who are happy, and be sad with those who are sad. Live in peace with each other. Do not be proud, but make friends with those who seem unimportant. Do not think how smart you are.” (Romans 12:14-16 NCV) Jesus reminds us what to do when we have a disagreement with someone else: “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23-244 NIV)

You see, healthy relationships are so important to our personal health and well-being. It is important to maintain friendships and family relationships in good condition. Let’s face it, our own happiness depends on it.

Now, I know there are some who are saying, “Well, I just can’t repair that relationship, it’s too far gone.” It’s not too far gone. With prayer and God’s help, you can make it right and you and the other person will be better for it. Remember what Jesus told Peter when he asked how many times he must forgive someone else? Peter thought he was being pretty magnanimous when he suggested forgiving seven times. Jesus said, forgive seventy times seven. And that didn’t mean 490 times. It was a Hebrew way of saying as many times as necessary. I believe that as Christians, it is incumbent upon us to be the one to make the effort, to take the first step toward reconciliation.

A teacher asked her students to list what they thought were the present Seven Wonders of the World. The students cast the most votes for:
1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State Building
6. St. Peter’s Basilica
7. China’s Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student was still working on her paper. She asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The girl replied, “Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there are so many.” The teacher said, “Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help.” The girl hesitated, then read, “I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:
1. to see
2. to hear
3. to touch
4. to taste
5. to feel
6. to laugh
7. to love”

That child was on the right track!

The third key to our happiness is to maintain an optimistic outlook on life. A study of 1,000 people aged 65-85 points to the importance of a positive attitude in dealing with life. After almost 10 years of follow-up, researchers found that people who described themselves as optimistic had a 55% lower risk of death from all causes, and a 23% lower risk of heart-related death. Optimistic people tend to be more physically active, drink less, and smoke less. They cope with stress more effectively. While one’s attitude toward life isn’t everything, it does make a crucial difference in dealing with life. And who has more reason for optimism than Christians?

Christians have real reason to be optimistic. We have been given promises that remind us that no matter what may happen today, tomorrow with Jesus will be wonderful beyond our wildest dreams. We have an eternity of joyful living to look forward to. What better reason to celebrate and give thanks to God? The Bible says, “May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” (Psalm 68:3 NIV) Paul put it this way, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

The rich man in today’s parable had as optimistic outlook on life. But, it was based on how much “stuff” and how much money he had, not on the promises of God.

Haddon Robinson, the eminent preaching professor, tells a story similar to this parable of the rich fool. A man in today’s society opens a newspaper and discovers the date on the newspaper is six months in advance of the time in which he lives. He begins to read through the newspaper, and he discovers stories about events that have not yet taken place. He turns to the sports page, and there are scores of games not yet played. He turns to the financial page and discovers a report of the rise or fall of different stocks and bonds. He realizes this can make him a wealthy man. A few large bets on an underdog team he knows will win will make him wealthy. Investments in stocks that are now low but will get high can fatten his portfolio. He is delighted. He turns the page and comes to the obituary column and sees his picture and story. Everything changes. The knowledge of his death changes his view about his wealth.

I’d like to close with a personal story about change toward wealth and “stuff.” When Linda and I were called to the last church I served, we were living in a big house in a lake waterfront community. We needed that big place to house all our “stuff.” The place was killing us financially. When I took the call to serve the little church in a little town called Jones Creek, Texas, we put the house on the market. We felt fortunate that we were going to be living in a church-owned manse and not having to carry an additional mortgage payment. We had a few folks look at the house at the lake, but not a single offer. One day, I was looking over our finances and said to Linda, “You know, we are struggling financially, but we are not tithing. I believe we need to start tithing.” So we did that. The next Sunday we put a check in the appropriate amount in the offering. That day, when we got home from church there was a message on our answering machine. Remember those? It was the realtor. She had a contract on the house. It sold and we closed a few weeks later.

You see friends, it doesn’t matter if you have a lot or a little, whether you are wealthy or poor, or if you have storage units filled with stuff or not enough “stuff” to fill the space you live in. What is important is that you are walking with God in a relationship with Jesus Christ. If there is anyone here today who is not walking with Christ as their Savior and Lord, anyone who is not celebrating the love of Christ, please talk to me at the door today. You see, if you’re not walking with Christ, you don’t have enough.

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