By The Reverend Dr. Ronald Shellhamer. Pastor Ron is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is a retired missionary to West Africa and the Aboriginal Tribes of Northern Canada. He, too, serves in The Presbyterian Church/USA
“One day a person in the crowd said to him (Jesus), ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But he (Jesus) said to him, ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you ?’ And he (Jesus) said to them, ‘Take Care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ Then he (Jesus) told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he (the rich man) thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he (the rich man) said, “I will do this: I will pull 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 and be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool!! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich towards God’” (Luke 12:13-21 NRSV).
Priorities! Arranging matters which are most essential beginning with that which is most important. Priorities! Making a list of what needs to be thought about and acted upon with regularity. Jesus, in the passage above, is pressing/encouraging us to consider our priorities both in the immediate short term and with vision for the long haul.
Without knowing it, we act on simple priorities each day: getting up in the morning for starters. We might get ready for work. We might have our breakfast to gain physical strength for what lies ahead for the day. We might engage in prayer as we embark on the routine(s) which follow.
Jesus pushes us to think further, as it applies to material possessions, our financial security, and thoughts as to how our possessions might control our thinking, crowding out what is most important. This priority thinking might begin with reflections on our relationships: God first, then each other, followed by actively participating in making our world a better place through a myriad of pathways and channels, which cry out for our attention.
The Lord loves us too much to control or dominate our decisions as to what is most important. Nevertheless, he is quite pointed in the parable mentioned.
In the end, what are the priorities in each of our lives? Truly, where is our heart when we consider the treasures we store in our barns of property, house, and financial silos?
Jesus tries to share with us that the decisions we make will either lead us to greater fulfillment in him or the lack of it. This is truly a “matter of faith.”