Stewards are generous with possessions, just as God is generous with us
Today we look at another teaching of Jesus about possessions in the Gospel of Luke. It follows on directly from yesterday’s parable of the rich man who foolishly built more barns to store up possessions for his future security. This time, though, Jesus addresses our anxieties about possessions and offers us direction for what really matters in life.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by being anxious add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not continue being anxious. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. “Do not be afraid, little flock, because your Father was well pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:22-34).
God provides each creature with what it needs – birds with what they need for food, lilies with what they need to radiate God’s beauty, humans with what they need for daily life.
•Being persuaded of God’s generous provision frees us from anxiety about material needs. God has already established God’s rule among the followers of Jesus (“God was well pleased to give you the kingdom” – past tense).
• Followers of Jesus live in constant awareness of their role in God’s care,
provision, and justice for all.
• Being aware of the reality of this gracious gift of God’s kingdom, we live now as disciples of Jesus, without anxiety for the basics of human life.
When we do not fear the future, and have confidence in God’s providence, we are freed to live generously based on the example God already sets for us!
• According to Jesus, selling our possessions and giving generously to those in need (as God does with us!) establishes for us treasure in heaven that never runs out (it is “inexhaustible”)!
• Jesus reminds us that what we do on earth has heavenly, eternal ramifications. Jesus calls us to seek first not our own wellbeing, but the kingdom of God.
• To seek first the kingdom in daily life requires that we have a sense of what God’s reign on earth looks like.
• We learn to recognize God’s reign by reading the scriptures and then seeking, through our faithfulness, to experience those moments when God’s will prevails in our lives and the lives of those around us. That is an experience of the kingdom!
Questions for reflection
• In what ways have you experienced God’s generosity in your own life? In what ways do those experiences ground your confidence in God’s care for you?
• In what ways has the generous use of your possessions freed you from anxiety about the basic necessities of life?
• From your own experience, what qualities characterize God’s reign on earth? How do you seek God’s kingdom in your life and in the lives of those around you?
Generous God, who cares for all of your creation, but especially for all people: Give us the confidence to trust in your generosity to provide what is needed in our lives; transform our experiences of your generosity into courageous and generous use of our possessions; and encourage us always to live in ways that reflect your reign over creation. Amen.