Monday, April 29, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Gratitude

Being Rich Toward God
A devotional by Voni Harris

“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” – Luke 12:23 (NIV)

The Parable of the Rich Man in Luke 12 is the story of the man so wealthy that he basically says, “I’ve got lots. I’ll build bigger storage sheds for all my wheat, and then eat, drink, and be merry.” God calls him a fool, for he is about to die that night.

Jesus Christ outright says this foolish Rich Man – and those of us like him – was being rich toward himself, not rich toward God (verse 21). In my opinion, being rich toward God means having your eyes on HIM and on HIS purpose for your life and the things HE has given you, which is why authentic gratitude is the key. The lack of Rich Man's gratitude is what hit me with this parable, and what I'm trying to communicate in this devotional. The Rich Man didn't thank God for his abundant harvest. He used it for his own benefit.

Wait, what? What does that even mean? The guy’s just trying to make plans for his huge wheat harvest. Duh, right? Wouldn’t you?

But think about this wealthy man in this parable. He had his eyes, not on God, not even on others, but on himself. His eyes were not even off himself enough to say “Thank you.” He didn’t make plans to build his business, hire more people. He didn’t care to make himself the John D. Rockefeller of the harvest. He was glad to relax and party off his profits. It reminds me of some of the modern-day wealthy kids who are no more than famous for being famous. The Rich Man didn’t care to build power and reputation for himself off his profit. Not even that, but no forging of a legacy, no impacting the world for good. Just eating, drinking, making merry.

He also didn’t look to make a donation to Wheat for the Homeless, if such an organization existed back in the time when Jesus told this story. The man didn’t dare share a little with his struggling cousin (if he had one). He didn’t think about ways to pass on his wealth to future generations. The storehouses that he wanted to build were his way of keeping what was his. Of course it was his. Rightfully so. However, his eyes were on himself and how all this wheat was going to allow him to be merry. He apparently couldn’t see the needs in the world around him.

Whatever you think of the Rockefellers won’t take away from the fact that they did good things for their country by creating railways that made a strong future for America. They created a strong, charitable foundation. But to the wealthy man in the parable, the purpose of the rich man’s harvest was him. He makes me think of someone with a stunning voice who sings only in the shower … if no one else is at home to hear and be blessed by their song.

It was Rich Man’s choice not to think of those around him, or to build a future of wealth for himself. It certainly was his choice to do whatever he wanted with his harvest. But his choice to build storehouses is what struck me hardest. He was not afflicted with simple, basic gratitude. There was not even a “thank you,” as he made his plans to keep it all for himself.

He didn't thank God for his abundant harvest. He used it for his own benefit.

Real gratitude is more than saying, “Thank you,” or writing a sweet “thank you” note. It goes far beyond that. It takes our eyes off ourselves and puts them on the Giver (God). That’s when we think about the future beyond ourselves, see the needs around us. That’s when we begin to care.

Rich Man did not, but do you have authentic gratitude?

His storehouses were so overflowing that they could easily have flowed to those around him, from donations to community building or in a will.

Are your eyes on yourself, hands clenched around what is yours? Or, does gratitude toward the Giver overflow your heart to those around you in need of Jesus, whatever God’s purpose? Are you living your life for God out of gratitude? Or for yourself?

In other words, as Jesus says in this parable, are you storing up for yourself, or are you being rich toward God? It’s food for thought, friends. Food for thought!

Author Bio:

Voni Harris writes from her family’s home on the rain forest island of Kodiak, Alaska.

A legal-eagle husband, a breathtaking daughter, an adventurous grandson, and two enthusiastic dogs all conspire to keep her from spending too much time at the computer.

She holds a Radio-TV degree from Drake University, and her short story “The Wedding” was published in Heart-Stirring Stories of Romance. 

Voni's novel Nothing Hidden won the 2013 ACFW’s First Impressions contest and the 2015 Daphne DuMaurier unpublished inspy suspense category. It was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis finalist.

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