Sunday, January 20, 2013

Greed: What is it good for? 欲:それは何に良いのですか?

Greed: What is it good for?  :それは何に良いのですか?
Key: vs 21  “…rich toward God.” 神に向かって豊か。
Besides world peace, what other issue do Believers deal with on a daily basis?  I would guess this topic of the lack of growth in the Spiritual Life would come somewhere on top.  What hinders our Spiritual growth?
Greed and the symptoms of greed are things that bring an end to Spiritual growth.  Greed also brings families down.  Business and even governments are shaken when greed enters the situation. 
In our PARABLE today, Jesus was invited to take part in a family dispute that He avoids like the plague.  Rather than taking sides with this man, Jesus gives a strong warning about greed. 
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; 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.”
Inheritance and the arguments over the estate are often the topic of many family’s harder times. It is real sickness and I will make up the disease’s name; possessionitis” and it is found infecting the hearts and lives of many.  Greed and the pursuit of possessions, as Jesus saw it, was one of THE most dangerous diseases that attacks our Spiritual walk. This hindrance damages Spirituality itself.
Especially today, the call for owning the biggest, newest items is readily available to us.  How do we make a break with this disease and find Spiritual Wellness?  Jesus’ teaching on this point is most clear.
As in most if not all of the parables, the person in question is nameless (the Prodigal Son, the unrighteous Servant). This man is set up as a ‘type’ of a person. 
The man in question was not seeking an arbitrator or a go-between but an advocate or supporter on his behalf.  Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 先生私と遺産を分けるよに私兄弟に話してくださいと言った Jesus is not fooled nor is He forced into a family feud.  He sees a deeper issue: the danger of greed.  And Jesus takes this situation to teach a very basic and important teaching in the form of a parable.  Parable: meaning  “moral story that points to a deeper meaning.”  He says—much to the man’s undoing—Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
Jesus was not just thinking of this man’s personal problems but a problem facing us all.  One is hoarding: In an issue of a International Journal,  a team of researchers found that about 15 percent of older adults with depression had "severe compulsive hoarding behaviors," while just 2 to 5 percent of non-depressed older adults are hoarders. 
“The One With The Most Toys Wins” "ほとんどのおもちゃとともに死んだものが勝つ
Jacob was a man who had worked all his life, saved all his money, and was a real miser. Just before he died, he said to his wife…"When I die, I want you to take all my money and put it in the casket with me. I want to take my money to the afterlife with me."
So he got his wife to promise him, with all of her heart, that when he died, she would put all of the money into the casket with him.
Well, he died.
He was stretched out in the casket, his wife was sitting there – dressed in black, and a friend was sitting next to her. When they finished the ceremony, and just before the undertakers got ready to close the casket, the wife said, “Wait just a moment!"
She had a small metal box with her; she came over with the box and put it in the casket. Then the undertakers locked the casket down and they rolled it away.
So her friend said, "I know you were not foolish enough to put all that money in there with your husband."
The loyal wife replied, "Listen, I’m a Christian. I cannot go back on my word. I promised him that I was going to put that money into the casket with him."
"You mean to tell me you put that money in the casket with him!?!?!?"
"I sure did," said the wife. “I got it all together, put it into my banking account, and wrote him a check…. If he can cash it, then he can spend it!"
The problem with possessions and mostly with the drive to obtain them--is that the person becomes a hostage to his desires. We are made to serve the Living God.  Once possessions become our main focus, we follow the dead.  Greed is sometimes called IDOLATRY in some texts (Col 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  コロサイ人へ手紙3:5 ですから地上からだ諸部分すなわち不品行汚れ情欲悪い欲そしてむさぼりを殺してしまいなさいむさぼりがまま偶像礼拝なです; Eph 5:3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. エペソ人へ手紙5:3  あなたがた間では聖徒にふさわしく不品行もどんな汚れもまたむさぼりも口にすることさえいけません).  False worship involves bowing down before something that is not worthy of honor—and that can’t deliver life’s true meaning.  The pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of false religion.  You can die out there!
Some are driven by buying things and by possessing things.  Always looking for the sale—that is not a problem in itself—but for this man in our parable, it cost him his life.  Buying something just because you can afford it might not be the best use of your money.  IF you had $2.93 million, would you buy a Bugatti…made of gold?  Or buy a house in Texas that is selling for only $19 million?  But it does not have to be expensive things—but also practical things like a storehouse to keep your harvest.  Some say they want to take their wealth with them.  We have an expression in the US: You will never see a hearse (霊柩車/mortuary transport vehicle) pulling a U-Haul.
The man in our parable was fortunate to have had a bumper crop and he was impressed.  And what the man does next is both good and proper.  He wants to care for what he has and not waste it so he plans to build storage areas to hold this bumper crop.  These measures were both good and prudent.  (Joseph in Egypt did much the same thing.) That was not the problem.  The problem comes from within his heart.  His rational philosophy and desire that results from this decision are the main concern.
He really owns the crop.  It is his.  In no uncertain terms, he points that out with such statements as of what “I” will do. He speaks about “my” fruit.  “My” barn, “my” goods”, and “my” soul.  Jesus does not condemn wealth as such, but its use or misuse.  How DO we use what God has entrusted to us?  Is being generous our habit?  Or does compassion take a back seat to personal desires?
He is concerned with self-interest only.  Nothing is spoken of the needs of others.  Nor an awareness of responsibility to others.  There is only self-interest.  Mine, mine, my!
So much like so many today: I did it my way!  It was not only a song sung by Frank Sinatra but also a major belief held by so many in the world today.  Up by my own bootstraps!  It was MY idea. I earned it!   “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. たましいよこれから先何年分もいっぱい物がためられたさあ安心して食べて飲んで楽しめ Wrong answer.  This is true hedonism (a seeking of pleasure for pleasure sake, --快楽主義) was very much alive in his thoughts and life style.  Don’t care about others.  The man at the beginning of this story with the question that got this started was concerned about an inheritance he wanted…the man in the parable was also only concerned for himself.
From all sorts of social communities around the world comes the recognition that using the creation for strictly selfish ends is a distortion.  The Bible also teaches that.  We are to be diligent caregivers with what we have around us.
Man is concerned for today and tomorrow, but God has another account to render: this man was about to join the dead.  God sees the man as a fool—strong words but here it fits very well.  He shows the man’s blindness in judging life’s priorities. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. さあ安心して食べて飲んで楽しめHis soul is being weighed on the scales of life and he comes up short.  Once he passes over into death, all the storehouses he had would count for nothing. He, when he was alive, points to his wealth as important but in death, it is empty.  He had all the toys and he looses the game. 
The parable ends with a question: who will get what you have prepared for yourself? 愚か者おまえたましいは今夜おまえから取り去られるしたらおまえが用意した物はいったいだれになる In death, only worms will enjoy what is left.  How have we prepared for our exit?  Letting those we love -KNOW of our love.  Make provision for the family—as much as possible—for that departure.  We will need to visit this again at another time. Take care of those you love!
Which brings the final statement right home for us when He says: 21 This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” 21 自分のためにたくわえても、神の前に富まない者はこのとおりです。」The key here is being rich toward God. 神に向かって豊か。What does that look like?
Looking to the One who called you in the first place.  What did He call you to do?  Follow Him. 彼に従ってください And? Obey Him. 彼に従う And?  Make disciples of others. 彼のために人々を弟子としなさい  So, how are you doing?  A storage unit built up around you to insulate you from harm?  We cannot afford to only eat and drink and make merry but to help others around us.  We cannot afford spiritually to be the fool who only has concerns for his own needs and comfort.
The parable comes to an end but His teaching continues.  My Bible’s headline reads: DO NOT WORRY.  When it comes to what we have in life—how much we make and what is done with it—we are not to worry.  Life is much more that our worries.  Putting on the cloak of worry will only make your life heavier.  But, some of us really like to worry!  We might feel it is our spiritual gift.  Believe me, worry is not a gift.  23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
“True wealth is the ability to let go of your possessions.” "真の富は自分の持ち物を手放す能力です。"  A balance is necessary.  And as we come to a balance, we are to learn about life from two different sources. How ravens live and how lilies grow. に目を向けるカラス ユリ  Ravens depend on the Creator for all they need.  God feeds them.  Jesus teaches that we are more valuable than birds and that God loves and cares for us much more.  And to consider how the flowers grow and how God cares for them.
 Jesus speaks to us all when He calls us out with O you of little faith! which brings us to the close and the antidote for greed .
THE CROSS: 十字架:A reality of Grace. 恵みの真実Jesus shows us how to really live. He shows us how to die.  His act of Love: dying for our sins, is the most un-greedful act ever committed.  The Father knows what we need and has given that in the Person of Jesus.  We are to But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.  What things: LIFE it self!
The end of it is this: a time of reflection; 黙想what is my attitude toward what God has given me?  What around me is unnecessary or superfluous?  Are these things really mine to do with what I want? Am I a faithful steward? Do I give? Am I generous? Am I a hoarder?  Do I take what’s been given to me and store it up for myself?  What steps will I need to take today to seek His Kingdom first? 最初に主彼の王国を求めるために、今日どのような手順が必要でしょうか? Pray with me.
Please read ahead: 
Next week's text--Luke 8:43-48. See you next Sunday at ICCS!