Stuff. We all have it. Men cram it into their wallets and back pockets and dislocate their hips in the process. Women have a bigger place to carry all their stuff: their purses. We carry stuff everywhere that we go. Our cars are filled with stuff, and the trunks of our cars are filled with stuff. For many, the meaning of life is to get more stuff and then find bigger places to put their stuff. Comedian George Carlin said that is what a house is for; it is a place to put your stuff.
One day you realize you have too much stuff, because you open the door of your closet, and it is full. The drawers are overflowing, too. So you have a garage sale, and you sell off your stuff. This always works, because there is someone out there who wants more stuff. They are driving around looking for stuff to buy, and they come and buy your stuff. So then you get the money from your garage sale from selling your stuff, and what do you do? Well, you go and buy more stuff. And then it begins to pile up again.
Then there is travel. We recently traveled with our two grandchildren. Kids come with a lot of stuff. They have their car seats. And then they have their strollers. And they have everything else that goes with it. And it just starts multiplying. People see you coming and run in horror as you are dragging all of this stuff to get on the plane. And then I get somewhere, and invariably I have forgotten the one thing I wish I had, so I go out and get another. Now I have a duplicate of stuff that I already have. It just goes on and on and on.
The Bible has a lot to say on this subject. In fact, Jesus told a story about a man who had a lot of stuff and had to build larger buildings to house his stuff. But the problem was that this man never gave a passing thought to God. And one day he told himself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’” (Luke 12:19 NLT) And God said in response, “You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?” (verse 20) Jesus concluded his story by saying, “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (verse 21).
Jesus talked a lot about stuff, possessions, money and so forth. In fact, 15 percent of what Jesus said related to the topic of money and possessions. This is more than all of his teachings on heaven and hell combined. Half of the parables Jesus told dealt with stuff, things and money. In addition, one out of every seven verses in the New Testament deals with this topic. Now, if you compare that with other topics addressed in the Bible, you will find that the Scripture offers about 500 verses on prayer, fewer than 500 on faith and more than 2,000 verses on the subject of money.
However, when you bring up this subject, people cringe. Why do we feel that way? Well, we think it is our money. But here is what the Bible reminds us of: We belong to God. Therefore, everything that you have belongs to God as well. As 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (NIV). You belong to God. I belong to God. My health is a gift to me from God. The breath I draw into my lungs is a gift to me from God. The beat of my heart is a gift to me from God.
Once when the Pharisees approached Jesus, trying to trap Him, they asked, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Matthew 22:17 NIV) They were overtaxed, so if Jesus said, “Yes, pay taxes to Caesar,” then they would say, “Well, don’t you think we are all overtaxed?” And if Jesus said, “Don’t pay taxes to Caesar,” then they would say he was an insurrectionist and should be arrested. So Jesus asked to see a coin that was used for paying taxes, and someone showed him a coin with the face of Caesar. Jesus asked, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” When they told him it was Caesar’s, Jesus replied, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (verses 20–21 NIV).
We bear the imprint of God. We are made in his image. So we should glorify God with our lives. Everything that we have, even if it is a result of hard work, has been given to us by God. God gave us the ability to earn and living and to produce wealth. The Bible says, “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, and he adds no trouble to it” (Proverbs 10:22 NIV). And in Deuteronomy 8:18 we read, “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. …” (NIV)
When John Rockefeller died, someone asked his accountant, “How much did Mr. Rockefeller leave?”
The accountant replied, “He left all of it.”
One day you are going to leave this earth. And all of the stuff that seems so important to you now will be left behind. It will be given to someone else – maybe not even to the people you want to get it. And every moment of your life that you make count for the kingdom of God, every dollar you invest in spiritual things, every prayer you pray and everything you do in service to God will result in treasure in heaven. You won’t regret it here. And you definitely will not regret it there.
Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15 NIV). Despite the popularity of the adage that says he who dies with the most toys wins, that is not the measure of a successful life. Real life is measured by what we do with what God has given us.