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Barney’s False Arrival

January 8th, 2009

Focus Text: Proverbs 11: 4 (NLT)

4 Riches won’t help on the day of judgment,
      but right living can save you from death.

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

This verse remind me of another story in the Bible about a guy who trusted in riches more than anything.  “Then He told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.  He said to himself, ‘What should I do?  I don’t have room for all my crops.’  Then he said, ‘I know!  I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones.  Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods.  And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stores away for years to come.  Now, take it easy!  Eat, drink, and be merry!”’  (Luke 12:16-19 NLT)”

Since the man in this story is not identified, let’s call him “Barney.”  Here’s a man who had worked hard to achieve all that lay before him.  I’m sure that his life hadn’t been easy and he had pulled himself up by his proverbial “sandalstraps.”  He made something of himself.   Barney’s friends probably criticized him for his workaholic lifestyle, but they also respected him for it.  He wasn’t a bad guy at all; he was driven to succeed.  If he existed in today’s society, he would be on the cover of Forbes magazine.  He would be considered a role model to a younger generation—a generation we constantly exhort to work hard and make the most of the opportunities that this life offers. 

We could even go as far as to say that God blessed him.  I’d buy this; I’d say that God did bless Barney.  We must be careful to avoid the post-modern concept that earthly wealth is anti-God.  No, indeed God constantly blessed those who sought Him with riches, land, and favor.  The possession of wealth and the achievement of greatness wasn’t Barney’s offense.

Barney stumbled at the point of his seemingly greatest success.  He embraced this pinnacle point in his life as the end all—the reward for which his earthly life was lived.  He ceased to move forward.  He ceased to grow.  He deceived himself into believing that he had ceased to need the blessing of God.  He thought himself self-sufficient.  Most of all, he didn’t acknowledge his ongoing and ever growing need to remain in God’s process.  Simply put, Barney had arrived.

 The idea of “taking it easy” doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  Come on, Barney had worked hard his whole life; what was so wrong with him finally arriving?  I often dream of making it to the point in life that I can finally relax and lay down the worries that are so emotionally heavy to carry.  Don’t you?

We’ve all heard someone say, “Wow, he’s finally arrived.”  This phrase usually follows someone who has gained fame, big money, or some other impressive accolade.  We say it at graduations and we say it at promotion celebration dinners.  Are these things wrong?  No, absolutely not!  I believe that God has made us to achieve great things.  Unfortunately, though, it is easy to value our self-desired destinations over divinity and that’s when arrival becomes an idol.  Thus, we encounter the sad ending to Barney’s short story:

“But God said to him, ‘You fool!  You will die this very night.  Then who will get everything you worked for?’  Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth, but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12: 20-21 NLT)

Barney’s barns were full, but his soul was empty.  How tragic!  We must remember that which is temporary and that which is eternal. The pursuits of our lives will reflect our eternal ambitions.  Just ask Barney.  The flip side is that “right living can save you from death.”  This kind of treasure can only be stored in heavenly barns . . . I’d sleep in those barns any day!



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