Wednesday, November 17, 2010
My darkest fear had finally become a reality! And the lightning and thunderstorm outside made it worse. My mom warned me beforehand that I would live to regret it. That day, regret was more than an understatement. I had ruined my life.
When my dad was very ill, he began to manoeuvre the directors to have me helm his company. Suspecting my constant indifference towards business, they fought against the idea. Finally they gave up and in I went. As a loving traditional father, he hoped what he had strived for would be carried on by his son. But it was not to be. Instead, it was a disaster just waiting to happen.
I remembered how I sat at his desk just a week after his funeral. It was an indescribable feeling. The aspiration to take over finally came. But I had an agenda. A wicked agenda that was. Every one that stood in my way was either fired or transferred out! Many advices were torn asunder and thrown aside! Including my mom’s!
I started to bully smaller companies and forced them to close down. They cursed me to bits but I cared not a bit! In my mind I thought those were worthless companies! Many people suffered under my destructive ideas! Although I felt like a champion but deep inside there would always be a tinge of fear for consequences. Months passed and those fears intensified. The board of directors dropped hints whenever we met. The loudest was my mom who outright warned me that my sins would catch up with me, just a matter of time.
Just a year only I took over the company, the profit plunged and overheads increased tremendously. I knew somehow something was not right but I was too lazy to do anything about it. I trusted “my” people to monitor everything for me while I went about living out my promiscuous life.
That night changed everything. Few men accosted me outside the bar and hit me real bad. Stabbed and battered, I lied unconscious on the dirt road next to the rubbish dump. Before I collapsed, I still remembered that in my mind, I told myself, ‘This is it! This is it!’
Lying in the hospital bed at this moment, tubes everywhere in me, I remembered my mom’s warning, “Just a matter of time!”
The parable of the barren fig tree is only found in Luke 13:6-9.
When Jesus tells this parable, He is responding to some self-righteous people who think that those who had suffered and died violently deserve it (v1). They reason that God has judged them is because they had sinned greatly. Or simply they are Gentiles and are not chosen people of God. Remember, Luke writes to everyone regardless of status and creed, souls as loved by Jesus, the Saviour of the world. That “holier than thou” mindset is prevalent in Jewish culture. It is dangerous and must be seriously addressed. And Jesus knows that. This kind of thinking will prevent them from accepting God’s grace that He comes to offer the world.
Jesus being radical with His teaching on parables, does not mince His Word. He warns them about the impending wrath. Jesus assumes the role of the prophet of old. Repent or else! And He utters it twice (vv3, 5). Those who think they can escape the wrath of God with their sins must think twice. It is just a matter of time.
No one will escape the judgement of God unless he humbles himself and acknowledges his sins before a righteous God. God does not want anyone to perish! He waits patiently! Jesus tells of giving the fig tree another year after a long wait for the fruit.
On another look at the parable, the owner seems to give enough time for the tree to grow fruit. It is the servant who asks for another year extension. God listens to the prayers of His saints. If not for the prayers of the saints, many people would have perished.
Let us all take this parable as a warning that self-righteous attitude will lead us nowhere but downhill. How many Christians who went through troubles and sickness had received a double whammy when “Holier-than-thou” people whacked them of having been judged by God.
Let us all remain humble at all times and also pray for God to wait longer so that precious souls can repent and be reconciled to God.
Next: Parable of The Lost Piece of Silver Coin
Monday, November 1, 2010
I came back to my room, confused and frightened. Staring at the still photo of my best friend near my bed brought chills down my spine. How could such a successful man die so suddenly? When he had everything going his way? My mind that day wouldn’t let me doze off as quickly as I usually could.
Memories after memories of Peter came rushing back like an overflowing river about to burst its bank. Peter had flooded me with so many nuggets of wisdom about being rich and successful yet one statement always hollered louder than the rest. “Grab everything NOW while opportunities are in front of you!” Even at the funeral that evening, scores of friends and colleagues spoke of him as a self-made man. One even said jokingly of Peter as “The Grabber".
But no one knew that he spoke to me privately about how he wanted to settle down and enjoy his spoils. He told me how he wanted to live like the conqueror, like the king who had just won a battle, savouring victory. All his life, Peter worked tirelessly to get hold of everything that life and opportunities granted him. Before he died of sudden heart attack, he already acquired a mansion with 10 rooms, huge swimming pool, few fountains leading to the vast garden, fourteen cars of all kinds, plenty of properties all over the city. Wine and women were his constant companions. He was the envy of the city!
I stared at the clock and it was 3AM. Then something like a feeling of depression wormed its way into me. I am rich but why am I still depressed? Death took everything away from Peter! I didn’t think he anticipated that ‘thing’ to hit like that! Far from sight and far from mind.
On second thought, I felt death could be knocking on my own door soon. I began to wander about the rightful place of money and material things I acquired. Never one time had I heard my late best friend said, “Let’s use this money for charity!” or “Let’s give some money away to the underprivileged people!” In fact, we had these people all around us. We didn’t even stop for them, let alone give.
Peter’s sudden death changed my life forever. In the wee hour of that morning, I knelt at my bedside and prayed a tear-filled heavenward-goal prayer. “Lord, all my money comes from YOU and I do not deserve a single cent. Please forgive my sin of greed and indifference. Lord, from now on, let YOUR will be done!”
Strangely, when I finished this prayer, my eyes felt heavier. When I woke up the next day, I felt so fresh as though I got a shower from heaven. Immediately, my mind whipped up an idea, “I will shower my world with all the blessings from heaven!”
The parable of the Rich Fool is only found in the Gospel of Luke 12:16-20.
In Luke’s world, the rich are the elite Romans who lust after all kinds of material gains. God is of course concerned about the Jewish populace and later churches being influenced by them. Already, they are some Jews colluding with the greedy Romans just to enrich themselves.
Jesus tells the hearers to watch out for all kinds of greed (v 15). It is not only the greed for money that concerned the Son of God but also lust for fame, sex, power. But to love money is the root of all evil. Greed of money will eventually lead a person to lust for all other worldly pleasures that go against the will of God.
It is therefore both appropriate and timely that Jesus shares the death of the rich man who thinks he has it all. The man calls himself a success but God calls him a fool! Death is not the opposite of life but a part of life. No one escapes death even when one chooses not to talk or think about it.
At the end, Jesus wants His hearers to see the temporal state of life on earth. It is not that God wants everyone to refrain from enjoying life or trudging through life like a pauper, rather, He wants them to focus on heavenly riches.
In God’s spiritual law, it is more blessed to give than to receive. Greed does the opposite. Greed always says what’s in it for me. It doesn’t care who is hurt as long as I get it. God and greed don’t mix. You will love one and despise the other. The man in the parable chose the latter and lost everything when death knocked on his door. He not only lost what he hoarded but also opportunities to use what he had to serve God.
What about you? What will you choose?
"But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:20-21)
Next Parable - The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree