Does Your Stuff Control You?
Appetite. The gospel reading today is a parable about appetite. Appetites are a great thing. The problem is how quickly they grow. No matter how much we have, we always tend to want just a little bit more. How much is enough? The answer is usually just a wee bit more than I have right now. I mean, the evidence is all around us. Almost half of American families spend more than we earn. And the average American household carries nearly $6,000 in credit card debt. I mean, look at our houses. We move into a house and it's not too long before somebody in the family says, "You know, we probably need a little more room." Or look at our garages, our garages now are bigger than our houses used to be. That's the problem with appetites. I just saw my first five car garage the other day, our appetites grow and they grow and we never really realize they're out of control until it's too late. And I got to be honest to worry about myself sometimes because George Carwin reminded me how much I love stuff. I've got lots of stuff. I mean, I'll be honest. I have a lot of stuff. I have a lot of stuff. I just keep getting more stuff. And the older I get, the more stuff I get. My father passed away and I got some of my dad's stuff. And then my mom recently passed away and I got some of my mom's stuff. And my father-in-law passed away, I got some of his stuff and my kids keep giving me stuff. And my grandkids keep giving me stuff. I got more stuff. My kids, my grandkids keep giving me stuff. I got too many stuff. I got too much stuff and I'm not a jealous guy. I like my stuff. I'm not jealous about your stuff. I am not one of those guys that thinks I want what you got. I don't need all that stuff. I'm happy for you to have your stuff. I'm happy for you to have better stuff. And I got stuff. I got my stuff. You just keep your hands and your eyes off of my stuff, because this is my stuff. This is my stuff. You get your own stuff. And frankly, between you and me, I'm not so sure about some of my neighbors. I see them driving by my house and slowing down and kind of eyeballing my stuff. And I go, "Hey, get your own stuff. This is my stuff. Feel free to get a Lexus. I got a Chevrolet. It's okay. You can have better stuff. Just let it be your stuff. This is my stuff." So I'm not so sure I trust some of those folks. I've put up a big fence with barbed wire and electricity in it. And a couple of towers with some guys with rifles and some lasers and some dogs in there just to protect my stuff because it's my stuff. Keep your hands, keep your eyes off my stuff. It's my stuff.
And then I got to thinking one night. I live in Georgia and sometimes the winds really bad. And I heard a tree falling in my backyard and I thought, "Hmm, what happens if that tree falls on my house, it would destroy my stuff." So I called my insurance agent and I said, "I better protect my stuff. Can I ensure my stuff?" He said, "If you send me enough money." And I said, "Sure, how much do I need to send you? I got to take care of, I've got to protect my stuff." And he said, "Now I need you to make an inventory of your stuff. I need you to write down everything that you' got, all your stuff so that something actually does happen we'll know what you got." And you also won't tell me that you got something better than you actually had stuff. He said, "So go, if you would kind of make an Excel spreadsheet, keep it online in the Google doc of everything that you've got. And then if you would take an iPhone and go around your house and take pictures of all your stuff and make sure you get the manufacturer and the serial number so we know clearly what kind of stuff you got." And so I did all that and I got more and more stuff and realized I got so much stuff. I looked at my wife. I said, "Nita, we got too much stuff." She said, "I know." I said, "What are we going to do?" She said, "You want to get a new house?" I said, "We can't afford it. What are we going to do?" And then it came to me. It was like a revelation from God. I drove down the road and I got me one of those rental mini warehouse units, self storage place to store my extra stuff. Not my good stuff. My good stuff's in my house, but my okay stuff. My good stuff's in my house house. My okay stuff's in the mini storage warehouse unit and my seasonal stuff. My Santa stuff, my Easter bunny stuff, my great pumpkin stuff. I keep that stuff in the mini storage warehouse. And I can kind of change it out by the time of the year. But it's still my stuff because I don't want to give it away stuff. It's still my stuff. I've got too much stuff and evidently I'm not alone because I read the other day that in the United States, we're now approaching 3 billion square feet. That's what a B, 3 billion square feet of mini storage warehouse unit space in the US. We love our stuff.
Maybe. just maybe, that's why Jesus talks about greed and money and possessions so much. He talks about money 20 times more often than he talks about sex. He says, "Watch out for greed beyond guard against all kinds of greed." But he never has to say, "Watch out for lust beyond guard against all kinds of lust." Why? Because with all the other deadly sins, when they're gripping you, you know it. An adultery and lust, it's hard to be having an affair and not know it. "Oh wait, I didn't realize you weren't my wife." That's not true with greed, is it? I've listened to a lot of folks confess to a lot of different things in my life. And I can't remember a single time somebody said, "Allan, you know what my problem is? I love stuff way too much. I think my problem is greed." Greed's the one deadly sin that nobody thinks they're guilty of. Greed, an inordinate desire for stuff, not wanting it, but wanting it too much. Excessive worry and concern. So let's think for just a moment. On the one hand, Jesus talks about greed 20 times more than he talks about sex and lust. On the other hand, none of us think that we're guilty of greed. So I think it's safe to assume if Jesus talks about it that much and none of us think that we're guilty of it, maybe, just maybe, he's right. It's the one sin that we're probably not aware of. Why did Jesus come? You are the one thing that he didn't have. He gave up his glory, his comfort to purchase you. You are more valuable to him than anything, anything. He will do anything to purchase you. Anything for us. Does that awareness impact you? Because it should. When you see that you are Jesus' ultimate treasure, it melts your heart. It changes you on the inside. It changes everything about you and everything else becomes just stuff. And then you're free to use your life and your stuff to help heal the world.