Editor’s Note: AMI Quiet Times for May 23-24 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Mark 8:36: What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?
Yesterday’s story of greedy Pohom, who died of exhaustion from trying to get just a little more land, reminds us of the parable of the rich fool (Lk. 12:15-21). Perhaps Tolstoy was inspired by it since in “his middle years, after many painful struggles . . ., accepted the Jesus Christ of the Gospels” (R. Niebuhr 1951:57).
In the parable, Jesus says: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. And he told them this parable: The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:15-21).
So how much land (or big of a barn) does a man need? Apparently, Tolstoy himself seemed to have struggled with this for a long time. Before he became a Christian, Tolstoy described in a candid work entitled Confession (1882) “his growing spiritual turmoil, castigating himself and his class for leading a selfish, empty existence, and started his long quest for moral and social certitudes.” He found them in two principles of the Christian Gospels: love for all human beings and nonresistance to the forces of evil.
However, at the age of 82, increasingly tormented by the disparity between his teachings and his personal wealth, and by endless quarrels with his wife, who resisted his attempts to renounce their material possessions, Tolstoy left his home one night. He fell ill three days later, and died at a remote railroad station.
Here are two practical reminders for us so that we don’t end up like Pohom or Tolstoy. First, remember that one key to a successful Christian life may hinge on whom we marry (that is, if you decide to marry): Find someone who is not greedy: “Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife” (Prov. 21:19).
Second, it is crucial to develop a habit of giving up a portion of our wealth, that is, long before we reach the peak of our earning potential—even though it creates some discomfort when we do so. All studies bear out the fact that the richer we become, the proportion of our giving to the risen income goes down.
Don’t be a fool by hoarding things on earth that you cannot take with you after you die (1 Tim. 6:7). When you are generous toward God, you will truly become content.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for blessing me with all that I need. Help me not to become attached to my possessions, but open my eyes to the needs around me so that I may share my blessings with others. May I truly find contentment in You alone. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 27