Wonder if Roman’s had “garage sales” to rid themselves of excess stuff from their villas? Did the Greeks have portable wooden sheds set up behind the palatial stone structures for their acquisitions from previous years? America has had so much for so long that we have to sell, give away, or throw away truck-loads of stored possessions so that we can move the newer unused possessions into the place that the previous horded treasures were just recently stored.
Even though our Christian faith continually instructs us to care for the poor, give to the needy, and to refrain from gathering up “treasures for yourselves on earth where moth and rust corrupts”, we have more of everything and even our storage bins and buildings are bulging. Great philosophers tried to dissuade men from amassing material things. It was Socrates that wrote, “He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses His own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
In one of his books Leo Tolstoy tells the story of a young Russian who inherits his father’s small farm. He immediately starts dreaming of how to expand his property when one morning a well-dressed stranger visits him and makes him an offer that is too good to be true. He could have, free of charge, all the property he could walk around in one day. The only condition was that he returns to the same spot from which he started, the grave of his father, before the sun went down.
Seeing the rich fields in the distance, he sets out without taking any provisions or saying goodbye to his family. He figured he could cover six square miles in a day. After a short while he decided to make it nine, then twelve and finally fifteen square miles. By noon he makes it to the halfway point. Though hungry with his legs aching he continues.
He was near the point of exhaustion but the obsession to own the land drives him on. With only a few minutes left before the sun went down, he gathers all his strength, and stumbles across the line. He is the new owner of fifteen square miles of land, and then collapses on the ground, dead.
The stranger smiles and said, “I offered him all the land he could cover. Now you see what that is. He has inherited a plot of land, six feet long by two feet wide. And, I thought he would like to have the land close to his father’s grave rather than to have it anywhere else.”
Having said that, the stranger whose name is Death vanishes, saying “I have kept my pledge.”
Each one of us will come face-to-face with the same stranger and must begin to ask ourselves, “What does a man get for his toil?” (Copied).
At the end of life, we take nothing of this world with us. We enter before God and give an account for words, deeds, and motives (2 Cor.5:10). There will be a purification by fire of what we bring before the Lord (1 Cor. 3:11-13). Only that which is spiritual “gold, silver, and precious stones” will last. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” (Matt.6:19-21).