Possessed by Possessions

Lou Lotz

Read: Luke 12:13-21

Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be? (v. 20)

“The land of a rich man produced plentifully.” What’s wrong with that? We have learned to mask our envy by sneering at prosperity as though it were a shameful thing. But prosperity is not a vice, no more than poverty is a virtue. So far as we know, the rich man is not dishonest or immoral or even particularly greedy. Some commentators complain that the rich man made his money on the backs of his underpaid workers, but Jesus says no such thing. He says, simply, that the land of a rich man produced plentifully. The rich man had a good harvest and he made a truckload of money—we should all be so fortunate.

But although wealth is not necessarily sinful, it sure is problematic. And the problems begin immediately for our farmer friend. He becomes delusional, thinking that material riches offer protection against the uncertainties of life. “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” Optimism is one thing, but the farmer makes promises to himself that he cannot keep. He seems to have considered every future scenario except the one guaranteed for us all—someday he will die.

This parable invites us to stop and take stock as the shadows lengthen over our lives: Do I own my possessions, or do my possessions own me? Regardless of my financial wealth, whether prosperous or poor, am I “rich toward God”? —Lou Lotz

Prayer: Lord, let me not be possessed by my possessions.