This past Saturday I enjoyed a fun afternoon with my girlfriends checking out some shops in Highland Park. Everything was cute and classy and ridiculously out of our price range. From Sur La Table to Weir’s Furniture to Crate & Barrel, we saw a hundred things we wanted and didn’t need.
While it was fun spending a few hours out with the girls, overall I couldn’t help but feel a little depressed and disillusioned by the end of the outing. My hand-me-down furniture and mix-matched kitchenware will never measure up to the delightful displays we ooed and awed over with stars in our eyes.
However, even if I someday could afford it, I simply cannot imagine spending $3000 for a couch. No matter how gorgeous and cushy it may be, that’s just not happening. We spent $300 on our sectional off of Craigslist, and it suites us just fine, thank you!
And yes that bamboo cutting board was nice, but $150, really? Or those scarves – simply lovely. Not 89 bucks worth of lovely though.
Even with those practical sentiments in my head, it was hard not to yearn for the pretty hats, cute knickknacks and fancy furniture.
But I was reminded of a parable found in Luke chapter 12, the Parable of the Rich Fool. A few months ago Jason Hatch, the college and men’s pastor at our church, spoke on this passage, and it really hit me hard. The parable is found in Luke 12:13-21, but let me just share one verse – Jesus’s words right before he tells the parable:
“And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”
Well if that’s not convicting, I’m not sure what is.
If you’re not really familiar with the meaning of “covetousness,” think envy, jealousy, greed, eager desire, etc.
I was definitely feeling all of the above on Saturday. Not only did I covet all those fancy things, I also envied the serious shoppers in those stores – you know, the people who were there intending to actually buy something, not just drool on it. The people who actually had money in their pockets.
Jesus isn’t necessarily saying having nice things is bad, or that we’re not supposed to enjoy expensive possessions or live in comfort – that’s a theological can of worms I’m not trying to open right now. But he is warning against the very dangerous trap of desiring more.
As Hatch said, “There is no end to more.” Over time, immersed in our toxic more-now American culture, our eyes become trained not to see what we do have, but what we don’t have.
Hatch also said, “Stuff isn’t big enough to fill up the human heart.”
We find that no matter how much more we get of what we think we need, we are never satisfied. We’re never fulfilled. That cushy couch, perfect cutting board and lovely scarf just don’t cut it.
The problem is not the amount. It’s not about more, it’s about what. “For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” We’re seeking the wrong thing.
Hatch left us with four points to be taken from Jesus’s words and the Parable of the Rich Fool:
- You desperately need to be on guard. Our hearts are far too susceptible to the allure of stuff. I’m thinking my next fun outing with the girls won’t include subjecting myself to the temptation of covetousness.
- Stop believing the lie that more stuff will make you happy. It won’t. More money, more clothes – even more time or more friends – brings only fleeting and shallow happiness quickly overwhelmed by the feeling that you need more.
- Be content. Look at what you have, not what you lack. Take the cliché to heart: count your blessings.
- Be rich toward God. Invest in your relationship with God, and with people. That’s where you’ll find fulfillment.
The Parable of the Rich Fool is immediately followed by the passage where Jesus tells his disciples not to be anxious about anything – reminding them (and us) about how God feeds the ravens and clothes the lilies of the field – oh how much more will he provide for us!
Instead of worrying over possessions or food or clothing, we should “seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you… For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:31, 34