Pastor column: Knowing when enough is enough
An old Jewish legend tells of a man who was never happy or satisfied. In his mind, he never had enough of anything: money, friends, compliments, time or opportunities. He believed everyone had more than he did.
The story goes, God got tired of listening to his bellyaching, so he sent an angel with a proposition: "The Lord has decided to give you a chance for great wealth," he said, "just hold your bag open and I'll fill it with gold and silver. But there is one condition; if any of the treasure falls on the ground, it will prove you have too much to handle, and it will all turn to dust. So be careful!" the angel warned.
As you would imagine, this man was overjoyed! Finally he would receive all he deserved and have enough! So he opened his bag and watched as the angel poured the gold and silver. Soon, the bag was getting very heavy.
"Are you sure that isn't enough?" the angel asked.
"No, just a bit more!" the man said.
"Shall I stop now?" the angel cautioned.
"No, I need a little more." the man insisted.
"Isn't that enough now?" his words came.
"You can never have enough!" the man snapped.
Just then the bag split down the middle, the gold and silver tumbled to the ground, and instantly it turned to dust! The angel then disappeared and the man was left with absolutely nothing!
Is it possible for a person to desire and seek too much in life? Can having too much be a problem? Might abundance lead to our own demise? I think the answer to each to these questions is, "yes!" Certainly some of the financial crisis our country and our world have experienced is due to the insatiable greed for money. And even here at home, have you known people who are so fixed on what they don't have that they overlook and under appreciate all that they do have?
In a world that admires and celebrates what we possess, own and hoard, Jesus Christ offers an alternative for those who would follow Him! The values of God's Kingdom direct and celebrate, not what we have, but what we share, give and spread to others. And why? Because God reminds us, life is not ultimately about getting but giving. ("What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose their souls?" Matthew 16:26) Jesus came into our world to give Himself for others and He encourages anyone who follows Him to imitate His example. The question we wrestle with is not "How much more can I get?" but "How much more can I give?"
In these times of an uncertain and volatile market, it is important for disciples of Jesus to hold firm to His kingdom values, and to trust His wisdom and truth. Our lives and futures will continue on no matter what happens with our economy, earnings or our possessions. We may not have all we want or desire, but God promises to provide for our needs. It is important to know when "enough is enough," and to recognize who is enough! As Christians, our identity and worth are clearly based upon another kind of currency. May this be reflected in the way we live each day as followers of Jesus!