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He...himself...I...I...my...he...I’ll...I...my...I...my...my...I’ll...myself...You...him...You...your...you...you...yourself - Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)
You didn’t know that verse was in the Bible, did you? I hope you clicked on the link to read the actual passage. If you read it closely, it sounds like what’s written above. This parable of Jesus is all about this “certain rich man.” Twenty-one words in these 5 verses (NIV) direct our attention to this certain rich man who has taken center stage. He’s all about himself.
Me, myself, and I.
Have you ever paid attention to your conversations? Once in awhile, I analyze my conversations. I pay attention to how often I’m centering the conversation on myself rather than on them. Ugh. It’s rarely a good analysis. Often when I look at the scoreboard of the conversation to see who has had more buckets, I’ve won in a blowout. That’s embarrassing.
I really do not like myself when I have a bad case of “me-itis.” (There I go again… all about me!)
At the heart of this parable about a certain rich man’s abundance is a certain rich man. It’s not an indictment on having a lot of things; it’s about what we do with the extra things that we have. Who takes center stage of our lives determines what we do with those extra things. When it’s us, we tear down our old barns and build bigger ones so that we can keep more. But when God takes center stage, the old barns are enough, and that extra stuff becomes a blessing to others. Less me, myself, and I and more God and others.
I bet we all come down with a case of me-itis from time to time. This week we’re going to discover what the antidote is, so stay with us.
Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. - Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)
The first part of the antidote to me-itis is living a less-is-more lifestyle.
In the early 90s, Southland started a ministry called “Helping Through Him” - HTH. HTH started out as a service project ministry. A group of young adults would meet up on Saturdays and take Central Kentucky by storm. They’d go to the homes of senior adults, single moms, shut-ins, and anyone else in need who had some work to be done and they’d serve. A bunch of 20somethings gave up their Saturdays to help others, and it started a revolution of love in our church.
HTH expanded to a barn where people with more could drop off their “extras” so that people without could get what they needed. Clothing, furniture, appliances, vehicles - you name it, and HTH collected it, fixed it, cleaned it, and gave it away. On Mondays, if you swing by the HTH warehouse, you’ll find the drop off the trailer is packed out the door with “extras” that have been dropped off over the weekend.
Southland families know that when we have extra, we can give it to HTH and someone in need will benefit. Our families could get their own storage units to clutch their extras, but they’ve learned the value of living with less so that others can have.
Living a “less-is-more” lifestyle means that we live on less than what we could - we live on what we need - and then we bless others with more. The more content we are to live with less, the less we desire to have more. HTH has helped all of us learn how to live a less-is-more lifestyle, and we’re pretty jazzed about it.
Take a look around your house today and take a stab at “decluttering.” Determine what you can live with and then give the rest away. Our culture tells us to do everything we can to get more, but once we realize the joy in living with less, we’ll understand how much more we have.Share Tweet
The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. - Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)
The next element in the me-itis antidote is gratitude.
Several years ago I went on a trip to West Africa. It was my first time outside of the United States, and my eyes were opened wide. As we drove to the villages, we passed some incredible sights. I saw people living in tiny mud huts surviving on whatever the ground provided. I saw an 8-year-old boy wearing a belt - nothing else - just a belt. I saw a baby walking around holding a dead rat by its tail. I saw hundreds of kids on dirt lots playing soccer with whatever they could fashion, but none of them playing with a ball. Kids were laughing and playing with absolutely nothing.
When we returned to the States, we decided that one thing we could do was to collect soccer balls to take back and give to every kid we saw. So we did that. On the next trip, we took thousands of soccer balls to give away. It was something simple and amazing. I’ve never seen more smiles in my life than the day we threw soccer balls off the top of our bus to every child. And I’ve never been more grateful to God.
That trip changed me. I learned the value of gratitude. I became grateful for every single thing and person in my life. Every time I watched my daughter kick a soccer ball, I expressed gratitude to God for His provision in my life. We forget to be grateful, and I believe that breaks the heart of God.
We should never take for granted blessings we did not design.
Is gratitude unexpressed gratitude at all? Take 10 minutes today to make a list of all of the things and people in your life that you are thankful for. Write a few notes and say a few prayers expressing your gratitude. When you do, you’ll begin to notice fewer me-itis symptoms hanging around.Share Tweet
This is how it will be for anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. - Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)
To that mixture of a less-is-more lifestyle and the element of gratitude, add a healthy dose of generosity. The cure to our me-itis is beginning to take shape.
This could be painful, but no pain, no gain right? Let’s start with our calendars. Crack it open and peruse the last quarter of the year. Evaluate the items on your calendar to see what’s geared towards benefiting others vs. what’s geared towards benefitting us. I’ll wait. Not too bad? Good! Now, crack open that bank statement. How much money are we funneling towards our own benefit vs. giving away to benefit others? That one might sting a little more.
Our calendar and our financial statements are two of the best gauges to evaluate how generous we are. At Southland, we teach and model a 10-10-80 strategy for managing our resources. We give 10% away, save 10% for our future and live off of 80%. This is a great goal to strive for and exceed. The more we are generous, the closer we get to a stress-free life. Getting into the habit of giving may be challenging, but once you get that ball rolling, it’s one of the greatest joys in life. It becomes fun to bless the socks off of others through our generosity.
Living open-handed with our schedules and resources means we are more available to be the hands and feet of Jesus. There’s more room for God to take center stage and, when He takes center stage, we become rich towards Him.
Are you living a 10-10-80 life? If so, GREAT! If not, set that goal and, once you meet it, exceed it.
Another great way to grow the fruit of generosity is to give one thing away every day. Start with something small and progress towards things that seem more important to you. You’ll grow, and you’ll have a blast doing it. Try it for the next month and see what happens.Share Tweet
And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.” - Luke 12:16-21 (NIV)
Less-is-more lifestyle + Gratitude + Generosity = Contentment. And THAT’S the antidote to me-itis.
Our parable this week features a “certain rich man.” Notice, from the opening line of the story, the man is rich. As the story progresses, he gets richer. His problems take shape when he puts himself center stage. Greed causes him to hoard his abundance which makes him a “certain richer-restless-unsatisfied man.”
I find it interesting that the guy started out with more than he needed. There’s nothing wrong with being rich, but, by its very definition, being rich means you have more than you need to get by.
If this story had been about a “certain content man,” do you think it would have gone the same way? Do you think he’d have torn down his old barns and built bigger ones? Me either. A “certain content man” would have been living a less-is-more lifestyle. He would have been grateful for what he already had. He would have seen his abundance as an opportunity to bless others. He would not be battling me-itis. But he was already rich, and he had a restlessness for more. He was not content with what God had already blessed him with.
When we mix up this antidote for me-itis and consume it daily, we become a “certain content person, ” and we live a stress-free life. That’s what this series is all about after all - living the life God wants to build for us without stress.
This Sunday, Jon is going to prepare us for Thanksgiving by giving us some great tools to put in our tool belt to grow our spiritual life. This will be a great Sunday to invite a friend or family member to join you who may be far from God. We’ve learned this week how to battle me-itis, now go a step further and invite that friend to come with you on Sunday to hear the most important message they’ll ever hear in their life.Share Tweet