The three worst mistakes in life
“And he said to them, ‘Take care, and beware of all coveteousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possession.’” (See Luke 12:16-21, RSV).
None of us likes to admit our mistakes. We may be like the man who said, “I’ve only been wrong once in my life, and that’s when I thought I had a mistake and hadn’t!” Yet, try to conceal it was we may, we all make our share of mistakes. Jesus told a story about a man who made “the three worst mistakes in life”.
The first error this man committed was mistaking his body for his soul. The Bible says he was rich, owned a lot of land, was miserly with his possessions, and had a false sense of security (12:16-19). At the end of a very “successful” career he could only think to tear down his warehouses and build bigger warehouses! Perched on the eve of his own destruction, he said, “Take it easy; you have many goods laid up for many years. Eat, drink, and be merry!” Many people make the mistake this man made. They work hard, live respectably (so far as we know), save for the future – and totally disregard their souls. We are warned against this in scripture: “For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul” (Mark 8)?
The second error this man made was mistaking himself for God. Every person serves some god. Paul Tillich defined God as our “ultimate concern”. What was this man’s god? It was himself! He uses the personal pronoun “I” six times in three verses. How do you recognize your god? Here are some tests: How do you spend your spare time? Where do you invest your money? What occupies your private thoughts? What are your plans for the future? One of the greatest needs we have is to see ourselves as creatures and God as our Creator!
The third error this man made was mistaking time for eternity. God said, “This night your soul shall be required of you….” There are people in life who seem too busy to accept Christ. It is dangerous to count on one tomorrow too many. This man mistook time for eternity and it cost him his soul. Proverbs warns, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow”. Paul wrote, “Now is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation.” In like manner there are professing Christians who are too busy for their church. Jesus, we are told, “loved the church and gave himself for it.”
We are to love the church and give ourselves (to Christ) through it. Even when we feel “we have all the time in the world”, we need to remember that this world is not all there is.
God himself wrote this man’s epitaph. He said, “Thou fool.” Let’s be careful to avoid the three worst mistakes in life!
Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church.