Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Don't be a rich fool

I was in Chermside shopping centre last week when a lady stepped out from one of the cosmetic kiosks and asked me about what after-shaving balm I used.  Now this was not the brightest question as I've let my beard go a bit since holidays started and it was quite obvious I hadn't shaved in a few weeks.

But then the actual meaning of her getting me to stop comes through as she asks if I'd like to 'get rid of those disturbing black marks under your eyes' (yep that's exactly what she said!)  Though I was a little offended I tried not to be rude as she proceeded to tell me all about this cucumber and Dead Sea salt goo that I could rub on my face and help rid me of this ugliness.  She then showed me the price... $110 for a 50g jar!!!!!! I promptly told her that as a student that was ludicrous and so she offered 50% off - to which I still said no that's too much for what I earn (let alone the fact I'm not spending $55 on some cucumber and salt!) She kept badgering me until I felt obligated to disclose to her exactly how much I currently earn each week - and that $55 would take more than half of that away.

The look of disgust and shock that a man of about 30 could be living with so little money was disturbingly evident on her face - again to the point of being quite insulting.  She promptly dismissed me and left me walking away feeling pretty low that I hadn't lived up to some preconceived idea of what it means to be an Aussie male in 2011.

I was walking home so had 45 minutes to let my mind wander over all the deep emotions the encounter with the sales lady had kicked off.  For a while I was wondering why I was living the life I was - but then God took me to this passage in his Word.
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:13-21 ESV)
The audacity of this rich man to say to his 'soul' - that life giving, salvific function of his life - 'you have no more need to worry because you have so much' struck me completely.  I think the ESV nails the Greek translation here using the word 'soul' - it carries much more meaning that the NIV's translation.  How many people today are putting their saving factors for their life into the possessions they have, or their looks, or their status?  The fact that people might spend $110 on a small jar of cream to try and look a little better just highlighted that fact to me greatly.

God reminded me by what means my soul is saved - and when I remembered Jesus, his loving actions on earth, his death on the cross and his power in his resurrection I forgot about the things I was missing out on because of the way I've followed him - and could really say (as the Apostle Paul did) that I can consider everything else rubbish, so that I might gain Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
(Philippians 3:8-10 ESV)

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