“Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.’ Then he told them a parable: ‘The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich towards God.’” (Luke 12:13-21) As we know, it is impossible to understand a parable properly without acknowledging its original context. Here, Jesus is responding to the request of a man who is valuing property over relationship. This would seem to be a crucial key in understanding the story. We must also acknowledge that the rich man in the parable is not accused of doing anything wrong the way we usually count things. For all we know, he has worked very hard to acquire all that he has. Effort is not his problem. However, he has forgotten that he has not achieved his wealth by himself. First, it was the land that produced abundantly. He did not make that happen. Second, therefore, there is no expression of gratitude. If we work and live alone, eventually we die alone. One of our greatest gifts as Christians is an invitation to be thankful based upon the realization of just how blessed all of us are. There is no mere self-achievement or self-improvement, because God always goes first. God gives us many things of which we are aware and so many more of which we are not. Are you ever tempted to build a bigger barn or to take credit for what you have really received rather than achieved? I know I am. But then I’m reminded of Jesus who valued his relationship with us far beyond anything else. Then I find the grace to be thankful and share. How about you? Have a great week!