Luke 12:13-15 :
One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” He said to them, “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.”
This is a very interesting exchange and it tells me something about God. Jesus is God, but here He asks: “who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” Jesus is Lord over all, but He has given us personal responsibility. He allows us to be wise and make wise decisions. God doesn’t force Himself into our lives. Perhaps, that is why prayer is so important. We need to pray and ask God to help us when we have a need. He may still require that we make a decision, but not without providing us wisdom to do it. That’s how Jesus helped here.
Jesus tells them to “keep yourselves from covetousness.” The wisdom that Jesus is providing guides us by a simple truth: “a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.” How I wish that more Americans (as well as those who wish they were Americans) would listen carefully to these words. This is a problem that we see not only in America but even between brothers who wish to divide an inheritance. Life comes from something other than having more possessions. If this brother didn’t want more, perhaps he would have avoided the whole issue and been much happier too. There are many people living very happy lives in simple circumstances. Here is one of my favorite verses on the topic:
1 Timothy 6:6-10 :
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we certainly can’t carry anything out. But having food and clothing, we will be content with that. But those who are determined to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful lusts, such as drown men in ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some have been led astray from the faith in their greed, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Real happiness is found when you can be content. If you are never content, you are not living well. Jesus can make us content with our food and clothing. He doesn’t expect us to be content without our basic needs; that’s good to know. We also know that we should never be content living in sin either. Another exception in the Bible is that if we happen to be living in slavery, we should get free if we can. If we cannot, I believe that God will help us to be content until we can. Contentment is where real life is, not in the abundance of possessions.