Let’s play a little true/false game. True or False: the Bible is the most shoplifted book in the world? That would be true. Second question: you can burn 100 calories by kissing someone? While some of us may wish that to be true, it’s actually quite false. Last one: a good life=a successful life? While most of us quickly answer that as false, the way we live our lives often tells a different story. We spend a ridiculous proportion of our lives striving after worldly success: career success, financial success, success in the eyes of others, athletic success, and on and on. We may know that a good life doesn’t necessitate such success, yet we seem to lust after success nonetheless.
Take a moment to checkout the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-21. Here is a farmer who experiences such a successful crop that he is able to construct all new buildings, and still have such a fortune leftover that he can take early retirement. This farmer definitely believed that a successful life=a good life. Once he had succeeded he figured he could simply sit back and enjoy his fortune. Unfortunately, he met his death the very next day, with his fortune going to waste. As I look back on my life, I’m ashamed at how much effort I’ve expended chasing success. I chased after popularity so hard in high school that I ended up with a drinking and drugging problem. In college I was so hungry for A’s that I worried only about myself and was a self-conceited jerk. In recent years I’ve even found that my thirst for athletic success (running and triathlon) has at times taken precedence over being a husband and father. And, in the end, what have I really gotten from all that? A yearbook full of signatures and silly sayings I no longer understand, a gold “honors” stamp on my diploma, and a drawer full of tin and plastic medals. All stuff that someday my kids will toss in the dumpster. It makes me wonder: if I would have expended some of that energy on helping other people, how big of an impact could I have made?
The Parable of the Rich Fool ends with Jesus telling us that instead of living for personal success we need to be “rich towards God.” This means that we take all of the riches of our lives: our talents, our finances, our success, the knowledge of our salvation, and share them with others. The impact of our sharing richly has a far longer and lasting impact then any personal worldly success. When we share the gospel with someone God can take that and save someone for all eternity. When we share our income with a relief organization someone may receive medicine that otherwise would have died prematurely. When we share love and encouragement with our neighbor we may turn them from a destructive addiction to a far better life. I really challenge you this week to focus less on achieving personal success, and more on living richly for God and others.