How Do You Measure Your Life?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”

Luke 12:15

How do you know if your life is adding up to something worthwhile? How do you know if you’re making a difference that actually matters? How do you measure your life?

In our day, it’s tempting to measure our lives by our financial accomplishments, by how much earn and how much stuff we have. We admire those who are wealthy and want to be like them. Yet, the same tendency was present in the time of Jesus. People throughout the ages are inclined to measure their lives using the ruler of economics.

In Luke 12:13-15, Jesus addressed this very issue. A man in the crowd called out to Jesus: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Though we don’t know the precise situation, it’s likely that this man was a younger brother. By law, he was entitled to a portion of the inheritance, though only half of what his older brother received. Yet, in this case, the older brother, as executor of his father’s estate, had not given his younger brother what he was due. So the young man did as was common in his day, appealing his case to a respected rabbi.

Jesus not only refused to adjudicate the matter, but also used the man’s request as an occasion to warn his listeners about greed. “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed,” he said. Then Jesus added, “Life is not measured by how much you own.” A more literal translation would read, “The life of a person is not in the abundance of that person’s possessions.”

Living in Southern California in the 1980s, I commonly saw a bumper sticker that read: “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” Jesus would beg to disagree. Life is not measured by how many possessions you have or by how grand your house is or by how much you earn or by your inheritance. The true value of life lies elsewhere.

Tomorrow, we’ll move on to consider what kind of wealth really matters. For now, let me encourage you to reflect on the following questions.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you measure your life by how much you have or earn? Be honest with yourself and with the Lord. How much of your self-worth is connected to your financial well-being? Does your attitude toward money ever become a cause of conflict in your family, as in the case of the brothers in Luke 12:13-15? If so, what does this tell you?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, you word today is clear. Life, my life, is not measured by how much I own or earn. Stuff is not what’s most important.

I know this, Lord. It’s not a new thought. But I am challenged today to be honest with myself and with you. There are times when I evaluate my success in life by what I own. I can feel as if my life has less value when I compare myself to those who have abundant possessions. Or, I can think of myself as better than someone who has less than I do. How easy it is for me to get my values wrong, to be lured into the cultural web that prizes financial accomplishment. Forgive me, Lord, for forgetting that all good gifts come from your hand and for measuring my life wrongly.

Help me, I pray, to see my life as you see it and to live by your values. Amen.