Cuddly toys teach the comfort of possessions from an early age
Do you have a teddy, blanket, or other soft or stuffed toy that brought you comfort as a child?
I’m never surprised to find that adults still keep their favorite childhood stuffed animal hidden away in a drawer or closet. Mine is a bunny and his name is Bunny Bookins. Bunny and I have been together since I was born and he’s had so many cuddles in his life that he’s pretty much bald (like me). And even though I now have someone a little bigger to hug in my bed, when I see them or hold them, I still have a little sliver of comfort.
We learn the comfort of possessions at an early age, and I think to a greater or lesser extent we all carry it into adulthood, surrounding ourselves with things that bring us comfort. So what should our attitude be towards these “stuff”? Is it OK with God to have a lot, to be rich both financially and in terms of possessions?
This week during our Sunday service, we dove into a story where Jesus was asked by a guy to arbitrate a financial dispute between him and his brother. It was quite normal for rabbis to be approached in this way, using their knowledge of the written and verbal law to pronounce judgments, but Jesus, on this occasion, did not allow himself to be drawn into taking sides with one or the other. other of the parties. He asks the first rhetorical question: “Man, who made me judge or arbiter of you?”
Let’s stop there and think. What is the answer? Who named Jesus? I understood? Therefore, they had better listen to what Jesus says next, and he gets right to the heart of the matter by addressing everyone present, saying, “Pay attention! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. He then tells them the story of a man who has a bountiful harvest and needs to build additional sheds to store his grain. The story ends with the man about to drop dead and God asking him the second rhetorical question of the day, “And the things you have stored up, whose will they be?” The answer is of course not his!
Jesus commands all of us to be constantly on our guard against greed. It is not wealth that is in question, but our attitude towards wealth that matters. Do we have an attitude centered on our wealth? For example, count how many times the man says “I” or “my” in the story Jesus told:
A rich man’s land produced abundantly. And he thought, “What should I do, because I don’t have a place to store my crops?” Then he said, “This is what I will do: I will tear down my granaries and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul: Soul, you have plenty stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.
The man in the story says I or my ten times! He is incredibly rich, does not share his abundance, but keeps it for himself; for his private use. This is the very definition of greed: keeping for yourself what could be shared.
Today, you and I are wealthy – and by world standards, incredibly wealthy – both financially and in other ways as well. We can be rich in terms of land, possessions, clothing, technology, furnishings, etc., but we can also be rich in terms of the time we have, or the particular skills or talents we have honed.
And it’s good to be rich! Jesus does not condemn the use of our resources to bless our family and others. Yes, we have to provide for our children, prepare for our retirement, etc. Remember that wealth is not the problem, it is our attitude towards wealth that matters.
The question God asks you is: how do you use what is given to you to bless others? For example, I love my Apple Mac because it lets me express my creativity through music, photography, video, design, and writing. My machine is not cheap and I am extremely blessed, but I try to use it to bless others – even using it to write these messages for The Royal Gazette which I hope are of some use! However, sharing does not come naturally and it can be something we have to override with our willpower.
Jesus’ message is counter-cultural because it goes against our very nature – where we place ourselves before God, others and the environment. Jesus exhorts us not to be rich for ourselves but rich towards God. In other words, responding to our wealth in a way that honors God. In a very real sense, when we share our wealth with others, we are sharing with God.
Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew: “Do not lay up treasures on earth, where moth and rust devour and where thieves enter and steal, but lay up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust do not devour and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Here’s the thing. The treasures we store up in heaven are the treasures we share here and now, on earth, with others.
Do you remember the children’s song: “It’s like a magic penny, hold it tight and you won’t get any, lend it, spend it and you’ll get so many they’ll roll all over the place. floor. Love is something if you give it, give it, give it. Love is something if you give it away you end up getting more?
Perhaps spend a moment reflecting on your own wealth; your own treasures. How do you have an abundance of blessings stored? It may or may not be financial, but maybe you have time to give, love to share, a special skill or talent that could be used to benefit others, a great view from your home, a vegetable garden packed, the opportunity to look after friends, or maybe even just the best hugs ever! Today, be rich towards God and learn to share your abundant treasures.
Oh, and by the way, if any of you need to give Bunny Bookins a hug, I’m happy to share it!
• Reverend Gavin Tyte is the pastor of St Mark’s Anglican Church. Visit stmarks.bm