Recently, our church has been participating in a study of the book of Luke called RESET, along with 40 other churches in Cincinnati. I’ve read Luke many times before, but this study has been very thought-provoking and has challenged me on many levels.
This morning I open Luke and dive into Chapter 12, which is a series of teachings and parables of Jesus against greed, laziness and hypocrisy. A few verses in particular jump out at me: Luke 12:13-34
The Parable of the Rich Fool
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 those who store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Do Not Worry
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life [a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 3334 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
Now, to some, it would seem to tell us that storing up food for ourselves isn’t wise. That we must take all we have and give it away, and never plan again for what we will have–God will just provide.
But that’s not at all what Jesus is saying. What Jesus is saying is he doesn’t like hoarding. Hoarding serves no purpose but to line our own pockets. Hoarding is selfishness, greed and worry that there won’t be enough.
Stockpiling is something very different, if you follow the rules and ways I present on my site. Stockpiling is a wise use of resources, a planning for the near future. We are not concerned with gathering enough toilet paper to last our family for ten years. No, we stockpile 6 months to a year at a time. In Proverbs the bible points out that the ant stores up in summer for the winter. That’s what Stockpiling is. We are taking the provision God is giving, and storing it up. At the same time, we are being considerate and thoughtful of others when we follow good stockpiling practices–we don’t clear shelves, we don’t take advantage of the stores (meaning we don’t overuse store coupons to the point where stores are losing large amounts of money) and we don’t do whatever we want no matter who it hurts. We also collect out of stockpiles and give to others. Most stockpilers I know don’t hoard their gains, like the rich man who was going to build bigger barns. Instead, they are always giving out of their stockpiles to those in need. When we give out of our stockpiles, we aren’t worried about if we’ll have enough–as we know that God will provide. There’s always another deal, another coupon.
Frequently I hear moans and complaints about all the new couponers coming on board. Many worry that their won’t be enough in their stores for them. I can’t support that. I understand that fear, but I can’t support hoarding the deals for the few. Others worry that stores and manufacturers are cutting back on the ‘best’ coupons. I smile when I hear that complaint. Why? Because I know I’m speaking with a coupon queen. New couponers never complain that the deals aren’t good enough. Intermediates rarely do either. They’re so thrilled to find ANY deal! No, when a person grows enough in their skills to begin complaining about the recent coupons and lack of deals, that tells me I’m speaking with a person who is ready to stand on their own two feet, ready to teach others, and is a person who has their own healthy stockpile. Their ready to move on and lead others!
And that’s what Jesus is talking about in these parables. I’m so proud of the Coupon Queens I know in this city. I don’t know many Divas, there’s not a lot of hoarding going on. In fact, most of the Coupon Queens I know are generous to a fault. I know there are hundreds, if not thousands, of families in this area that have been touched by their incredible generosity!
Take, learn, grow. Then give back! Turn and teach others!