“Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can”, this is the motto which John Wesley had lived by. Many of us have parents or grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, and grew up about saving up because you never know when you will need it. Author C.S. Lewis was known for only living on 10% of his income, while giving the remaining 90% to charities in London. Today we live in a society that sometimes seems to live with a new motto. “Earn all you can, spend all you can even money you don’t have, give only what you can spare.”
Our Gospel reading puts us with Jesus as he prepares to tell us the parable of rich man and the storehouse. We have a man who has been blessed by God with a bumper crop. He has such a good harvest that all of his grain bins are clear full. In fact, he cannot fit it all in his bins. So what does he want to do? He wants to build bigger to store it up.
The question to be asked is, does he really need the excess grain? He already knows he will have plenty to feed himself and his family with the bins he has, so why build bigger and better? What could he do with the excess instead?
What was that motto that John Wesley lived by? “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can”. For the people gathered listening to Jesus would have been familiar with Leviticus 19:9-10 which states;
When you reap the harvest of your land, you will not reap to the very edges of the field, nor will you gather the gleanings of the harvest; nor will you strip your vineyard bare, nor pick up the fallen grapes. You will leave them for the poor and the stranger. I am Yahweh your God. (Leviticus 19:9-10 NJB)
When God gave these laws to Moses and the Israelites, the point was to share with all members of the community. By leaving the outside edges of the field this would allow those traveling to collect with enough food from the edges of the fields. While at the same time, it was allowing the farmer to keep the rich part of his harvest.
You see God not only provided this man with a blessing, moreover he provided the man the opportunity to share with the less fortunate his blessing from God. However, instead of relying on God this man planned to keep the whole harvest to himself. He did not allow his faith to stretch and keep him. Nor was he willing to share his bounty with others.
How about us today? I can remember back home in Selma, planting a huge garden at my grandparents house. We had set out some 30 tomato plants. Of course, we shared them with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle. However, still these plants produced way more then we needed. Much to our regret, many rotted on the vine and the ground. For Luann and I we often regret the fact we did not let others know or provide others with access to our garden and its harvest.
On the other hand, how many people do you reckon would actually be willing to go out into your fields, and pick up missed ears of corn, pods of soybeans, or separate missed oats and wheat? Not many, there seem to be many among the less fortunate in our country who feel they are entitled to have it hand delivered rather than get it themselves.