Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Many people love Jerry Seinfield, the stand-up comedian. He has been recognised as a brilliant comedian—someone who thinks outside the square. If you’ve watched any of his TV shows, you’ll know what I mean.
On one episode, Jerry Seinfield was talking about boxes. Here’s what he said:
To me, if life boils down to one significant thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving. Unfortunately, this means that for the rest of our lives we’re going to be looking for boxes. When you’re moving, your whole world is boxes. Have you seen any boxes? You could be at a funeral, everyone around you is mourning, crying, and you’re looking at the casket. That’s a nice box. I mean that’s what death is really…the last big move of your life. And the casket is that great, perfect box you’ve been looking for your whole life. The only problem is, once you find it, you’re in it.
Seinfield has quite a talent at explaining big issues in humorous, quaint ways. And it’s true—we pack a lot of life in our so-called boxes. Our material possessions and what we call ‘stuff’. Travel on a plane and you’ll see what people take with them. Some people don’t know how to travel light. We buy and consume an awful lot of things—perhaps too much. Wouldn’t it be good to live a simple lifestyle. Try downsizing and see how difficult it is to get rid of your stuff. We spend many years finding a place for our stuff.
When enough is never enough
Jesus had something to say about this in Luke 12:15-21 (The Message):
Speaking to the people, [Jesus] went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”
Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’
“Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnfull of goods—who gets it?’
“That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”
A person’s life is not about having a lot of possessions. (Luke 12:15 – The Voice)
Did you note the warning here about having too much stuff? The problem is that God can interrupt your life as he did with the rich man. He died—and what’s the use of it all? It won’t benefit him at all. The rich man was obsessed with finding enough places for his stuff—barns, houses, containers, boxes. What Jesus does here is tell a story that, among other things, warns us about greed—about that endless yearning for more and more, when enough is never enough.
And he confronts us with this challenging story that keeps prodding at us to consider the ways we accumulate and store up our treasures, the ways our possessions possess us, and how we fail to be rich toward the Lord God, who longs to provide abundant life for all. In our world there are specialised stores (like The Container Store) that sell nothing but special boxes to hold your stuff—as if having a box for everything and everything in its box makes it all better.
But Jesus said in Luke 12:15, “…Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot”. Somehow we mistakenly think that if you own a lot, you’ll be happier than those who have little. But evidence doesn’t support that at all.
(To be continued in More Boxes and Stuff – Part 2)