Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. ~ Epictetus
Treasure your relationships, not your possessions. ~ Anthony D’Angelo
Of all possessions a friend is the most precious. ~ Herodotus
It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly. ~ Bertrand Russell
When I was in college, my parents’ house burned down, and took a lot of the possessions I’d grown up with. That’s probably one thing that made me realize material stuff is not really that important. ~ Rick Riordan
If you spend some time Googling statements about possessions, you will find pages and pages of them. If you take time to read some of them, you will find that many of the quotes compiled over the past 2,000 years of written history have to do with the human obsession with possessions and the ultimate failure of that obsession to bring meaning or value to our lives.
Jesus himself echoed this thought when he said: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Fulfillment, happiness, contentment and joy are never linked with possessions, either in scripture or among philosophers throughout the ages. In fact, the opposite truth has often be argued: that possession and material stuff work against fulfillment, happiness, contentment and joy. One of the reasons this proves true is that when we try to find those things among the material, we are basing our fulfillment on what will inevitably pass away, break or be destroyed. That is why Jesus encourages us to give away what we possess and instead centre our lives on things that are eternal and have eternal consequences.
How does this apply to today’s reading? This is one of those instances where a wonderful little tidbit from God is buried among some rather plain details. We have in these chapters a discussion of what the “prince” is privileged to have and do and what the responsibilities of the priests will be in the new Temple. Ezekiel 44:28 says: “This will be their inheritance (speaking of the priests here): I am their inheritance. You are to give them no possessions in Israel: I am their possession.”
It is easy to skip over this little scripture without thinking about it. But it is so profound, especially when you consider that the role of “priest” has been extended beyond the Levites of the Old Testament to include all believers in Jesus Christ! 1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” What is true of the priests in this little verse is true of us. Our only true possession, the only inheritance that matters is God himself. Our only hope, our only trust, our only aspiration should be in him.
The other thing that is interesting that comes with this statement from God is a promise of provision. No where in scripture where we are commanded to let go of our possessions does God say that we will be without because of it. Will we have guaranteed success and gain because we let go of our possessions, no. That’s prosperity gospel mumbo-jumbo. God commands us to let go of possessions because he knows that our material stuff can and do become idols in our lives, things that distract our hearts from following fully after God. That is why the priests are mentioned specifically not to have possessions here, because nothing was to distract them from God’s service.
What possessions have hold of your heart or are a distraction for following fully after God? Is God calling you to let them go? Some things to consider.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezekiel 46-48