As I listened to a sermon on putting our hope in money a couple of weeks ago, the pastor asked us to write down words that hit us from each scripture passage read. The word that jumped out at me from Luke 12:16-21 was “hoarders.” I’d only seen snippets of the A & E show at that point, and know people appearing on the show usually have psychological issues that contribute to their behavior. Still I was struck by the phrase, “This is the way it will be for those who hoard things for themselves and aren’t rich toward God” (v. 21 CEB). The rich man piled up his harvest in newly built barns then died before he could enjoy all the stuff he’d hoarded for himself the way he’d imagined he would.
I got online and watched an episode of Hoarders. I’m far from a great housekeeper, but it’s easy to feel smug after seeing the homes featured! However, through my smugness I realized that even if I don’t hoard stuff, letting it pile up until it makes my home unlivable, I am a hoarder. I think perhaps most of us are.
Some of us do fill closets and garages with new stuff we don’t need or use. Some of us hoard time—keeping it for ourselves rather than offering it to God. Some of us hoard our spiritual gifts perhaps by deciding to take individual spiritual journeys rather than becoming part of a local church where we can serve others with our gifts. Talents can be hoarded when we use them for our own glorification and not God’s. People can be hoarded—friends and family—when we get so caught up in spending time with them we don’t open our lives to those who might not have friends or family. In churches we can hoard our favorite programs and events—programs and events that simply serve ourselves.
As I reflected on my tendencies to hoard time, feelings, and thoughts for myself, the line of a prayer I’ve resolved to pray daily in 2017 came to mind. John Wesley’s Covenant Payer contains the line: “I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.” That’s the opposite of hoarding. I can usually “freely and heartily” yield my resources and spiritual gifts, but start reaching for “my” free time or my deeper feelings and I hold on pretty tightly.
What are you tempted to hoard for yourself rather than give to God?