Bigger Barn Syndrome – Part Four

We finished yesterday with a thought and a question:

So, when we don’t have enough, we wonder why.

Why not wonder when we have more than enough?

You know where I’m going with this. The parable of the rich fool makes it all too clear why we have more than we need. But before we head down the path of predictability, let’s consider our options.

What are the possibilities? What might God be up to in providing us with more than our daily bread? 

Perhaps you have more than you need in order to ensure that your children have everything they need. Is that why God has provided the way He has? Probably not. In fact, leaving or giving your children a lot of money generally doesn’t set them up for success in life. In all my years of counselling, I’ve never heard anyone say”My problems began when my parents didn’t leave me enough money.” But the world is full of people whose problems began when they received money they didn’t earn. I don’t think God gave you what you have in order to ruin your kids.

Maybe God provided an abundance for you so you won’t worry. Maybe He wants you to lean on your accumulated assets for peace. But I’m guessing that’s not it either. Generally speaking, the more a person accumulates, the more he worries about it. Besides, peace is a fruit of the Spirit, not a by-product of accumulated wealth. The more I have, the more I think about it and the more I worry about it.

There’s a third option. Perhaps God has provided you with extra in order to elevate your standard of living. Maybe it’s all about bumping up your lifestyle a notch or two. Most people today, regardless of the nation they live in, enter adulthood with the assumption that our lifestyle should keep pace with our income. In fact, thanks to the credit card industry, for many of us our lifestyle slightly outpaces our income. Either way, we’re continually urged not to allow one to lag too far behind the other. The result, of course, is artificially induced income pressure.

“Artificial?: you say. “My financial concerns don’t feel very artificial.” They don’t feel artificial because the costs associated with maintaining your lifestyle are very real — you really do have to pay your cable TV bill, your cell phone bill, and your credit card bill. But those bills exist because you’ve chosen to lead a lifestyle that keeps pace with or outpaces your income. You’ve convinced yourself that all those luxuries are necessities – things you can’t live without. Your inflated sense of what’s essential has created financial pressure, but it’s artificial pressure. Maybe all you need to do is throttle back your lifestyle a notch or two and the pressure would subside.

Think about it. Regardless of how much money a person makes, if he leaves himself no margin, there’ll be no peace of mind. Worse, if all your money is spoken for before you deposit your paycheque, greed has an all-access pass to your heart. Why? Because any extra that comes in is already spoken for as well. You’re planning ahead of time to consume it. Where’s there no margin financially, there’s no way to avoid avarice. When the pressure’s on, we have little choice but to think of ourselves first.

That’s the essence of greed. You don’t have to actually have extra to be greedy. As long as you plan to spend whatever comes your way on yourself, you’re a candidate. It you’ve allowed your lifestyle to keep lockstep with or surpass your income, you’ll find it next to impossible to keep greed from taking root in your heart. And, if the surplus is rather large you begin the experience the Bigger Barn Syndrome.