YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU – 8/4/19 – Pastor Donna Doutt Luke 12:13-21
Homer and Langley Collyer were a pair of millionaires who liked two things and two things only: creating bomb booby-traps to ward off intruders and living in a mansion full of garbage. In the 1940s, these two brothers lived amongst their piles of trash in a Manhattan row house, with Langley caring for his blind brother Homer. Langley believed that the key to restoring Homer's sight was vitamin C, so he fed his older brother 100 oranges a week to try and restore his vision. (Apparently old Langley wasn't aware that it's carrots that turn your eyes into night-vision goggles.) Good-hearted Langley also kept piles of newspapers around, assuming that one day his brother would want to catch up on current events after his eyesight returned. And then something crazy happened – the Collyers were killed by one of their own booby traps in 1947.
After receiving a tip that someone had died in the Collyer home New York City, police went to Manhattan where they had to break in through a second floor window to gain access. From there commenced a three-week long manhunt that began in the piles of old newspapers, phone books, and furniture boxes in the home and took police all the way to Atlantic City in search of the brothers.
When they finally re-searched the home, police found the brothers buried no more than ten feet away from each other, beneath mountains of their hoarded trash.
Poor Homer and Langley! You can’t take it with you!
According to hoarding statistics, around 19 million Americans currently suffer from severe hoarding.
Writer Jacob Shelton notes that, “A hoarding addiction can come from out of anywhere; some people are natural shut-ins, while other hoarders are dealing with an intense trauma that they never received treatment for. The unfortunate truth is that some hoarders who aren't receiving the proper care, might be heading towards a horrible death.”
Much could be said of the rich man that Jesus refers to in our scripture today: “The Story of the Greedy Farmer.” Jesus is preaching, and…
13 Someone out of the crowd said, “Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.” 14 He replied, “Mister, what makes you think it’s any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?”
Jesus refuses to enter into a dispute over money, which is clearly dividing this family. Jesus knows that disputes over money can destroy relationships, so tells the parable of the greedy farmer:
He warns them: 15 …“Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”
16-19 Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’
20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’
21 “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”
Whew! That’s some heavy-duty news coming from God! Here’s God showing up and saying “You fool!” That’s some pretty strong language. “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.” “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich toward God.”
HEY BUDDY! YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU! In the end, death will separate us from all we’ve accumulated. Even our overflowing barns!
This rich man is a true narcissist. He’s not worried about anything but himself. His language is all full of “I”, “me,” and “my.” He’s glorifying himself because he’s been shrewd enough to gather all of this in preparation for HIS retirement. It’s all about him. He’s not got the least bit of concern for his neighbors who have little or nothing.
Don’t misunderstand me. There’s nothing wrong in saving for retirement. In fact, you should. That’s just good stewardship. However, this man is so focused on
himself that he’s forgotten to give God the praise for the bounty of his life. Without God’s good grace, he would have no bounty to store in the barns. Nowhere do we see him praising, “Thank you God for all you’ve given me!”
I want you to think back to a few weeks ago, when our message focused on Mary and Martha. We’ve had a similar situation that we hear in this parable. Martha complains that Mary is not doing her fair share. Remember that’s how this scripture starts? A man wants his “fair share.” Jesus reminds Martha that she’s distracted by many things and has lost her perspective. What’s being served for dinner is not the main thing here. The main thing is Jesus.
Priest and preaching teacher at Virginia Theological Seminary, David Schlafer, hits the nail on the head when he writes, “Both the man focused on the inheritances he DOES NOT YET have (but wants to gain) and the rich man focused on resources HE DOES HAVE (but wants to enlarge) are afflicted by a variation on Martha’s problem – essentially ‘the other side of the coin.’ The disgruntled brother and the enterprising rich man are NOT distracted by many things, as Martha is. Rather both are distracted by their respective fixations on one thing: the additional resources each might somehow garner…(‘If only my brother would divvy up!’ ‘If only my barns were bigger!”
Did you know that in America one in 11 Americans pays an average of $91.14 per month to use self-storage, finding a place for the material overflow of the American dream. According to a company that tracks the self-storage industry, the United States boasts more than 50,000 facilities and roughly 2.311 billion square feet of rentable space. In other words, the volume of self-storage units in the country could fill the Hoover Dam with old clothing, skis, and keepsakes more than 26 times. It’s a $38 billion a year industry.
Last week we had 62 people here in worship. So, potentially, if one in eleven people pay an average of $92 per month to store their “stuff”, based on that equation that means that out of those 62 people, and the 1 out of 11 would be approximately 6 people…their combined potential storage facility costs to store “stuff” would be approximately $550 per month. HEY PEOPLE…YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU! Think of the additional good work that could happen if we were offering that $550 a month to our church’s mission and ministry outreach.
That’s more than $6,600 per year just from 6 people! Even If each of those 62 people who were here last week gave an extra $10/week only – that would be an additional $32,240 per year for ministry here.
We could do some fabulous programming with that!
I’m not pointing fingers at anyone. I’ve made 47 purchases from Amazon in the past six months. As I’ve grown in my Christian journey, I’ve re-ordered my priorities as well. I’m here to say that if you take care of God’s ministries, He will take care of you!
We’re all lured in by the abundance of goods available to us in the United States. It’s tough to resist those flashing signs of “Sale! Sale! Sale!” Promotions and marketing lead us to believe that it’s all available to us. How easy it is to click and buy!
But let’s not forget, the Bible offers us plenty of scripture about storing up. Matthew 6:19 -21 says, “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
1 Timothy 6:17-19 says, “Tell those rich in this world’s wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they’ll build a treasury that will last, gaining life that is truly life.”
And this from James 5:1-3 about “Destroying Your Life from Within:”
5 1-3 And a final word to you arrogant rich: Take some lessons in lament. You’ll need buckets for the tears when the crash comes upon you. Your money is corrupt and your fine clothes stink. Your greedy luxuries are a cancer in your gut, destroying your life from within. You thought you were piling up wealth. What you’ve piled up is judgment.
YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU!
What does it mean to be rich toward God? We need to make it a priority in our lives to use our resources for people, ministries and efforts that bring the message and values of God’s kingdom to this world. We need to re-think our habits so we can give and serve better.
Our scripture today reminds us that we humans, are indeed that. Humans. And as humans, we’re tempted to worry about financial resources. But as disciples of Christ, we know that God can be trusted to provide. As disciples of Christ, we should never be afraid to live generously through our faith.
I hope you come away today considering this parable…mulling it over as the day goes on. Do you have enough in your life? Is what you have “stored up”…are the things you want and desire…for your own pleasure, or for understanding of God’s blessings and our true purpose in life?
Do you remember a few weeks ago in our message about the quote from George Carlin? The closing line was, “And always remember, life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by those moments that take our breath away.”
Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Earthly possessions are inferior to the heavenly One. YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, BUT GOD WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU!
When we give our hearts to Christ, there’s an immediate recognition of the fading value of material things. Through the knowledge and presence of the Holy Spirit, we should begin to want and desire greater heavenly rewards more than the earthly ones.
What we have stored in our silos, in our basements, in our storage facilities doesn’t make us rich toward God. YOU CAN’T TAKE ANY OF THAT WITH YOU! It’s from our love of God and our willingness to serve Him that we gain our true wealth. - Amen
 The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson
 David J. Schlafer. Feasting on the Word, Year C. vol. 3. P.313