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; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’
“Life does not consist in an abundance possessions.”
It’s true, isn’t it? If it did you’d be able to go to the beach where life is reduced to its minimum – its bare minimum might I say – just a few ounces of cloth and some sunscreen, and look around at everyone and pick out who the wealthy people are, because the people with the most possessions would be the happy ones – the people with the smiling faces.
But it doesn’t work that way.
What is it that makes people happy? I don’t mean that little thrill you get from retail therapy, or from getting a hole in one. Those thrills are fleeting. I’m talking about a deep inner joy.
My childhood was not wealthy: we never ate takeaway, that was a luxury. I went to a restaurant for the first time at age 18. I stayed in my first motel at age 21. Never any soft drink in the house, and we lived in a cardboard box in the middle of the road – well not quite; but I have only happy memories of my childhood.
Many of us live in the future – “Life will be better when…” John Lennon once wisely wrote, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” (John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy“)
A man comes up to Jesus and says “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” It was the role of the eldest son to distribute the assets in his father’s will.
Jesus replies, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” The word “arbiter” is literally, “divider”.
A writer called Kenneth Bailey says, “Jesus is a reconciler of people, not a divider. He wants to bring people together, not finalize separations.” (Kenneth E Bailey, “Through Peasants Eyes“, p300]
Much rather the man had said something like “Rabbi, my brother and I are fighting, can you help us sort it out? It’s getting messy and I don’t want us to wreck our relationship. Can you help us get some reconciliation going?”
No! He says, “Jesus, give my brother a kick up the pants. He’s in the wrong.”
No, real life consists in being content in all circumstances. Proverbs 30:8-9 says,
“Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.”
Real life comes from good relationships. That is why there are so many “one another” passages in the Bible.
My God and my provider, make me content in all circumstances. Amen