I Will Tear Down My Barns

I Will Tear Down My Barns

RiverWalk Church of Christ Wichita Ks  Minister

Most of America has gotten through the Thanksgiving holiday by now, and is totally immersed in the Christmas holiday. There is an entire “season” for Christmas now, unlike Thanksgiving. I suppose much of that is because Christmas is a much more commercial holiday time than Thanksgiving ever thought of being. As Lucy Van Pelt so aptly put it in conversation with Charlie Brown, “Look, Charlie, let’s face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It’s run by a big eastern syndicate, you know.”
Now, I don’t know if Christmas is run by a big eastern syndicate as Lucy says, but there is no denying that it is a great commercial venture. Many businesses rely on the Christmas buying rush to stay in business the rest of the year. Many people rely on the temporary employment the season brings to make ends meet for awhile. Meanwhile, many consumers find empty pocketbooks, smoking hot checking accounts, and maxxed out credit cards come January 1.
Yet, this is also the time of the year, if there indeed is such a time, that people tend to feel more generous. Many give to charity during this season. Some give to soup kitchens or homeless shelters. Others may volunteer for some worthy non-profit. And many of us slip a dollar or two into the Salvation Army kettles that pop up all over.
I have to wonder why this generosity can’t last all year long. Why is it that we part with a few dollars this time of the year, but seem to be to clingy with our resources the rest of the year. Could it be that it isn’t generosity at all, but rather some other prompt that suggests we put that two dollars into the Salvation Army kettle?
I’m not a psychologist, so don’t have all, or even part of the answers. But I do know that as Christians we are to have that “attitude of gratitude and generosity” at all times…not just during one particular season or month on the calendar. God gives to each of us without regard to the times or seasons…we in turn give to others out of gratitude for God’s wondrous blessings toward us.
Jesus tells a story in Luke 12 about a farmer who had an extraordinarily bountiful crop. He wondered what he would do with it all and decided to build more barns in which to store his bounty…and live life at ease. The end came suddenly for him when God required the man’s soul…and now what will happen to all he stored up.
St Basil of Caesarea, in the fourth century, had much to say regarding generosity, greed, and giving. In a section in his book, “On Social Justice” entitled “I will tear down my barns,” he says this:
“How many precepts you ignore, since your ears are plugged with avarice! How much gratitude you ought to have shown to your Benefactor! How joyful and radiant you ought to have been that you are not one of those who crowd in at others doors, but rather others are knocking at your door! But now you lower your eyes and quicken your step, muttering hasty responses, lest anyone pry some small coin from your grasp. You know how to say only one thing: “I do not have, I cannot give, I myself am poor.”
You are poor indeed and bereft of all goodness: poor in love, poor in kindness, poor in faith towards God, poor in eternal hope. Make your brothers and sisters sharers of your grain; give to the needy today what rots away tomorrow. Truly, this is the worst kind of avarice: not even to share perishable goods with those in need.”

May we never display a “tear down my barns” attitude. May we always be looking out for ways to be generous…to share…to do the work God has given us as His children. Blessings this holiday season.

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