Summary: If we are concerned only about earthly possessions, we will enter eternity empty-handed.
Text: “…a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
I would venture to say that you and I learned a long time ago that material possessions are not the most important items in life. The first ten years of my life was spent in the coal-mining hills of Southern Ohio. We lived in a small town situated between the hills. At the very base and between the hills was a coal mine.
The tunnel was in the side of one of the hills and running into the tunnel was one set of steel rails on which an electric motor car ran. The electric wires ran along the roof of the tunnel and provided power to the electric motor car by an arm leading from the car to the wires in the ceiling of the tunnel. This was similar to the old trolley car or street car.
The miners and their families living in the small town did not own their own house because they were making less than a dollar an hour. My dad worked an eight-hour swing shift or rotating shift. The mine operated 24 hours a day, five days a week. He was making less than $7.00 per shift. The only people who owned a house were the people who owned the coal mine. These people also owned the company store which was like a general store. They stocked everything from food to clothing to shoes.
The miners had little choice as to where they could shop. Prices were higher in the company store and the miners were forced to purchase their food and necessary items there. The purchases were taken out of their paycheck so that the miners ended up with little or no pay. The practice was very unfair, but the miners had little choice.
The miners did not have to be concerned about an abundance of material possessions because they owned nothing. There is a song called “Sixteen Ton” that tells the coal miners story. Here are some of the words as recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford:
I was born one morning’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said "Well, a-bless my soul"
You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to the company store
Times have changed, but coal mines are still in existence. My dad paid the ultimate price for his years in the mine. Safety and protective breathing devices were not a major concern in those days; consequently his lungs filled with coal dust and he couldn’t breath. He didn’t have any earthly treasures or possessions, but he had the love of God in his heart and the love of his family.
Today, many people have the idea that the more earthly possessions they can accumulate, the happier they will be. Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).
When Jesus walked the face of the earth, he had no material possessions. He was not concerned about owning a house, a herd of animals or any other earthly item. Jesus was concerned about heavenly things and not earthly things.