Have you ever been to a hoarder’s house? Maybe through a service project? Or maybe just through your Grandmother or Aunt? My years in ministry have taken me to a variety of hoarders houses. They are always different. One house the wife couldn’t stop buying items on sale, so her basement was pretty much a general store. It was to the point that whenever we had a spill we just looked around until we found the appropriate cleaning materials. I met one guy who hoarded junk mail, one woman who hoarded newspapers and magazines, and another man kept anything broken because he felt he could fix it later.
Each time I had the same thought: “I can’t believe this person needed to keep this stuff this badly.”
This is not just a problem for hoarders. You and I may not collect stuff, but we still suffer from the human condition of selfishness. We subscribe to the thought of “I need to keep and protect this more than I need to use it.” I’m talking about not just our possessions and wealth, but also our gifts and talents.
The reading from Amos chapter 8 gives us a long list of ways the people were being selfish. They were cheating the scales, working on the Sabbath, all to “trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land.” Is this too far off from the culture we experience? Are we not encouraged to do whatever it takes to look after ourselves, even if it means putting others down? This gives me a great reminder that selfishness does not lead me to heaven, God’s word does.
In Luke chapter 16 we see more selfishness through the parable of the dishonest steward. He was living life for himself using his master’s wealth, until his master came to hold him accountable. What strikes me this time reading this scripture is how determined the steward is to make something good out of it. Sure, he has been wasting his master’s wealth, but he can still do some good. In the scripture, the master “commended the steward for his prudence.” All was not lost.
This speaks to me about the gifts and talents we have as people. We are created who we are by God to share those gifts. But often, we are scared. Maybe it’s to protect our feelings; maybe it’s a fear of failure. But what I take away from this reading is even if you’ve made mistakes with your gifts or treasures, it is not the end. In fact, the time is now. Now is the time to develop your talents and share it with your Church and your world. Now is the time to share of your possessions. Selfishness won’t lead to heaven, but being generous with God can.