The other day we had some friends come to our house for a visit.  While they were here, one of our friends accidentally damaged something that had a great sentimental value to me.  He did not know that he damaged it, and I didn’t tell him; to this day he still doesn’t know what he did.  Later, with considerable effort, I was able to fix the object; and looking at it from a distance, one would never know that it had been damaged.  A few days later I was speaking to my son, lamenting the fact that the item had been damaged, and how hurt I was about the incident.  He said, “Dad, it’s just a thing.”  I have no doubt that he had heard one of his grandmothers make that statement on numerous occasions – a further affirmation of the influence of godly grandparents (2 Tim. 1:5).  I knew what he meant by that statement, however, and he was right.  It was just a thing, and I felt a little ashamed of making such a big issue over a “thing.”  I appreciate his insight, and for setting his “old dad” straight on such a significant matter which deserves attention in this lesson from the farm.

Our culture is saturated with things, and we can easily be caught up in the trap of materialism.  Little people have little toys while big people have big toys; but for both there seems to be an insatiable appetite for more and more things.  So, it is well to stop and be reminded of the words of Jesus, “Watch out!  Be on you guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12:15).  Then Jesus went on to relate a parable of a rich fool whose barns were not big enough to hold all his wealth.  As he was relaxing in his possessions and lamenting his lack of space for his crops, he abruptly was reminded of the brevity of life.  God said, “You fool!  This night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself” (Lk. 12:16-20)?  Jesus concluded the parable with these words, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” Lk. 12:21).  There is nothing inherently wrong with following good business practices, or with saving for the future, or with the accumulation of possessions unless that is all there is to it.  Jesus said there is more to life than these things.  He said that true life does not come from an abundance of things, or success, or security.  The fool in the parable lived without God, died without God, and his money was only incidental.  God is not impressed with our money, or our things.  When it comes right down to it, they belong to Him anyway, and are merely on-loan to us for a brief moment.

Jesus said that true life is being rich toward God.  That means to acknowledge (gratefully and cheerfully) that everything we have comes from God, and then make every effort to use what He has given us for His glory.  Being rich toward God means spiritual enrichment, not personal enjoyment.  It seems so tragic when people are rich in this world but poor in the next.  That is why Jesus encouraged us to store up treasures in heaven rather that on earth (Matt. 6:19-20).  However, this has everything to do with our attitude toward our things.  The guiding principle was stated clearly and succinctly by our Lord when He said,  “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”(Matt. 6:21).  Nowhere in scripture do we find that Jesus glorified poverty, nor did he criticize the securing of wealth.  To the contrary, God declared that the things he made were good (Gen. 1:31); and He has “richly provided us with all things for our enjoyment”(1 Tim 6:17).  God is concerned about the heart.  It is not wrong to possess things, but it is very wrong for things to possess us; and sometimes the more there are, the tighter their grip  That becomes idolatry and covetousness – sins with many warnings in scripture (Ex. 20:3, 17; Col. 3:5).

Our heart attitude toward things has ramifications toward our giving as an act of worship.  When we remember that Jesus talked about our treasure and our heart, it should cause us to evaluate how we worship and honor God with our giving.  We should willingly, cheerfully, and most generously, lay up treasures in heaven.  The size of our gift to God is of no consequence to Him, because no one can give to God anything that doesn’t already belong to Him.  The act of giving was never designed to fill God’s coffers.  It was designed to remind us that everything we receive is from God and that He will provide for us.  In giving we offer a portion of our financial income to reflect the offering of ourselves to the Lord and to one another (2 Cor. 8:3-5).  God’s focus is on our heart because there is where the treasure of our things reside.

Jesus once met a man with this kind of a heart problem.  He was seeking eternal life based on his pride in keeping the commandments; but Jesus knew his heart.  Jesus said to him, “Go sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven.  Then come follow me” (Matt. 19:21).  Sadly, his things owned him – not the reverse.  They were just things, but Jesus knew where the man’s treasure lay.  Unless he turned to Christ later in life, this man became one of the richest men to be buried in the local cemetery.  When asked how much he left, as the old saying goes, the obvious answer was that he left it all.  How tragic to enter into eternity naked and empty handed!  Warren Wiersbe observed that it is good to have the things money can buy provided we do not lose the things that money cannot buy.  Jesus said it was impossible to serve God and money (Matt. 6:24) because the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:6-10).

Like many of you, we have heirlooms, keepsakes, and special treasures that are important to us, but we should be very careful not to misplace their importance with something beyond what was intended.  It is certainly not so much the dollar value of these things as much as it is the memories they represent; and now my wife and I are beginning to think in terms of passing them along someday.  As each day passes, the words of Solomon become more vivid, “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs, He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand”(Ecc. 5:15).  We cannot take our things with us when He calls our name, so it is good to keep things in perspective.  When my son called me out on my little “pout,” I didn’t like it at the time; in fact I resented that he was not as sympathetic and understanding as he should be.  However, upon reflection and prayer, I am glad that he reminded me, “Dad, it’s just a thing!”  We all need that kind of reminder from time to time.

Turn you eyes upon Jesus.  Look full in his wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim In the light of His glory and grace.