One day, as Jesus was walking along, he turned to his guys and told them a parable. He said, "The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' He said, 'I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus of grain.'"
But God said to him (in the parable), "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you." Then, in the parable, Jesus asks the guy a question -- and in asking the question, he asks you and he asks me the same question, no matter how old you are, no matter how much stuff you have. Here's the question Jesus asks in the parable: "Now who will get what you have prepared for yourself?"
The answer is: somebody else. Not because he was generous, but because he was dead! All the stuff he had saved up for himself to consume, someone else would now consume. Then Jesus steps out of the parable and looks right into your eyes and right into my eyes and says, "This is how it will be for whoever stores up things for themselves but are not rich toward God."
Jesus' point is simple. Generous people don't assume that all the extra they have is only theirs to consume. When God and life have given us extra, it's for the reason of doing something that makes a difference for someone else.
This parable of Jesus in Luke chapter 12 has taught me what it really means to be generous. Generous people are not driven by the idea that, "If it comes to me, it must be for me." I don't know that Jesus could have been any clearer. If you want to be rich toward God, you do something that God wants done in the world.
What would it look like, and what would it feel like, to know that God has called you to be more than a consumer? The answer is found when you begin to organize and center your life around generosity. You will be financially free -- and you may become generous.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas