Does it spark joy? What sort of joy?
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 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.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Like a lot of people recently, I’ve been intrigued by the phenomenon of Marie Kondo’s tidying up. I wonder how she would have reacted to the rich man in the parable because he’s got lots of stuff… I imagine Marie would have said, “Does the grain spark joy for you?” And the rich man would have said, “Oh yeah! It gives me so much joy that I talk to myself! It gives me so much joy that I built a bigger barn! It gives me so much joy that now I’m going to have a party!” And Marie would have re-joined, “Well, if it sparks joy, you’ve got to do it!”
In our post-modern world, we like to think that if we’re in control of our stuff then we have power over it. That if we’re choosing what to throw out and what to keep that we’re not in danger of being materialistic. Yet God in this parable very clearly discounts those shades of grey and distinguishes the issue in black and white terms: are we storing up things for ourselves? How rich are we towards God? However, we choose to label it, our things do spark joy for us because we’re human. As hard as it is to admit, we can love things more than God because we’re sinful. But in Jesus’ death we are freed from our love for things. If we have died with Christ, then His spirit can help us put to death whatever belongs to our earthly natures (like greed) and clothe ourselves with whatever belongs to Jesus’ nature (like generosity) (cf. Colossians 3:1-17).
Maybe it could be rephrased like this: are my things sparking joy for me? Or are the things of God sparking joy in me for Him?
Head: What things do you have that (selfishly) spark joy for you? Specifically identify them.
Heart: If you were given a warning like God gives to the rich man, how would you feel about your life so far?
Hands: Read Colossians 3:1-17. As someone that has died with Christ, what do you need to ‘throw out’ of your life? As someone that has been raised with Christ, what sparks joy for Him that you need to ‘keep’?
Prayer: Gracious Father, thank you for the wonderful gifts that you give us in your creation. We are sorry that we love some of those things more than you. Please help us to put to death things that belong to our earthly nature. May we grow to be more like your Son. May our joy in You characterise our lives more than our joy in things. In Jesus’ forgiving name, Amen.
A song to listen to: Raised with Christ