Am I guarding against materialism and being rich toward God?
15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16 And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 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 all my grain and my goods. 19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things 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 anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." - Luke 12:15-21
When I was five years old, I knew I wanted to be a millionaire like my grandfather. He and his brother were both wealthy and had the big boats, nice houses, and sports cars. Once, when I was a teenager, he took me to the post office with him to pick up his mail. He had been living in another country and had cashed out his mutual fund accounts. There were so many checks, that he gave me a pile to help him open. By myself, I opened up checks for over a million dollars. I had never seen so much money in my life. It was intoxicating to consider the possibilities of what could be done with that money. I tried to imagine how happy my grandfather must have been to have that kind of money, and how happy I could be if I could earn money like that one day. I couldn’t have understood at the time, but my grandfather was living a very worldly and sinful lifestyle.
He was a hard hearted man and it was always intimidating to be around him. Money was his god. He denied himself nothing he wanted, but he was not a happy man and he made no room for God in his life. He would not even attend holiday dinners at our house because we said a prayer. He had been living out of the country for years and I had only seen him a handful of times in my adult life.
In 2011, he flew back to the States for a medical procedure. While he was in the hospital, he contracted an infection that got out of control and slowly started killing him. When I went to see him in the hospital, he looked horrible. The intimidating, wealthy, self-sufficient, and proud man had been swallowed up by fear. I asked him if he was scared and like a little boy he said, “I’m terrified.” I was still so intimidated by him because of how he had treated me in the past and because I knew what kind of things he had done. However, in that moment I felt such compassion for him, and even though I wasn’t supposed to touch him without gloves, I laid hands on him and prayed for him and asked God to help him. I told him that I had been through a lot of pain in my life and I found help through Jesus Christ and that he needed to ask God to help him. He said he was asking Him every day, but I knew he was not calling on Christ. A few minutes later, we had to leave the room as they prepared to transfer him to Birmingham. Shortly after he arrived at the hospital, he began freaking out and telling people he was seeing demons and they were harassing him. Here was a man who knew nothing of God, now claiming to see demons that were scaring him to death. Within a few days he passed away.
My grandfather can’t come back and plead with others to listen to him, but I can. Please, take the words of Christ seriously! Do not let money seduce you into going to hell. Examine its place in your heart. Would those around you say that your life is more characterized by your pursuit of money or God? Do whatever it takes to make it the latter.