August 4, 2019: Eat, Drink and BeMerry

A shooting at an El Paso mall with 20 people dead, 40 injured.  An additional shooting in Dayton, Ohio with another 9 dead…

A treatment that is more painful, more trying than the illness itself.

A diagnosis with no good options.

A painful relationship having difficulties. 

This season of our lives is filled with pain and heartache – some born of our own pain and heartache, some we experience empathetically with others. 

In times like these I cry out to God to “feel hope in hopeless times”  – I try to remember the laughing faces of children, to remember that God loves us as we are, even as we try to do better and to be better. These difficult times can help us learn to appreciate the lives we have and help us to truly LIVE. 

Today we encounter Jesus as he is teaching his disciples and US about LIFE – about Enjoying LIFE! What does it mean to live a good life? 

I remind you that it is the same Jesus who said, in the gospel of John 10, verse 10: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 

Let’s try to answer these questions by looking at our scripture from the gospel of Luke, chapter 12, verses 13-21:

13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 

So Jesus is approached with this question after the death of a father. I am certain the man and his family had mourned and wept, and now they were caught in the midst of a struggle about the abundance the father had left behind. But Jesus’ initial reaction was – I don’t want to be involved with this quarrel between two brothers.  “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” But then he continued, taking advantage of this “teachable moment.”

15And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 

16Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 

(Those of us who move quite a lot can relate to the idea of putting our surpluses in storage units or shipping containers….)

19And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 

The rich man in the parable is faced with a dilemma: “What should I do with my abundance?” and he logically works it out, “If I construct a storage unit I can save my crops for years to come. By working hard now and storing up my harvest for the future, then I can rest for years to come. I can relax, eat drink and be merry.” 

Now this phrase – “Eat, drink and be merry” –  is a reference to a previous biblical citation from the book of Isaiah, chapter 22, in which the prophet warns the people of Jerusalem not to disobey God.

Isaiah 22:12-14

12 On that day the Lord God of hosts
 called to weeping and mourning, to baldness and putting on sackcloth;
13 but instead there was joy and festivity,
 killing oxen and slaughtering sheep,
 eating meat and drinking wine.
 ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’
14 The Lord of hosts has revealed himself in my ears:
 Surely this iniquity will not be forgiven you until you die,
 says the Lord God of hosts.

Yipes. So, “eating and drinking and being merry” in this case wasn’t the right response.  And in bringing this phrase up in our scripture, Jesus too infers it is not the right response. The rich man says, in verse 19, 

19And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 

20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Looking more closely at verse 21, we see that THIS verse is the central verse! The problem with this man was not the “storing up of his treasure,” but the “for himself.”  The problem is not in HAVING treasures, or even in STORING treasures, but in “storing treasures for himself.” 

The rich man in the parable has a problem, not with his possessions, but with his heart. His treasure will benefit him and only him. His work and the fruit of his work belongs to HIM ALONE and this is where his problem lies. Jesus explains, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

What does it mean to be “Rich toward God?”

In Luke/Acts this verb [plouteo] only occurs here and Luke 1:53 “God has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.” This may imply that being rich towards God is approaching God as hungry, needy, people — letting God give us what we need rather than trying to secure it on our own. (1)

And this is how the rich fool behaves as one who SAYS he believes in God, but acts as if He is on his own. As author Brian Stoffregen explains, “The rich fool may protest that he has always believed in God, but when it comes to managing his life, dealing with possessions and planning for the future, he lives as though there were no God. The parable, therefore, probes our basic commitments. What difference should our faith in God make of the practical matters of life?” (2)

Christianity is a movement of ACTION, of doing and telling and reaching out and loving. Christianity is a movement based on the example of a man who was constantly on the move, speaking with strangers, eating with friends, healing, teaching, DOING in the love of and with the help of God. 

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly, “ Jesus said. But abundant life doesn’t mean a storage unit filled with an abundance of material goods. Abundant life doesn’t mean the best and newest thing to make us cooler or better than our neighbors. Abundant Life is not the best seats on the airplane, or the most expensive bottle of wine, or the brand named whatever to make us look good. Abundant life is not doing everything to excess – eating, drinking and being merry – so that others say, “Wow. That guy is really happy.”

Abundant life in Christ is “eating, drinking and being merry” in the knowledge and love and example of God.

Abundant life involves finding the joy in simple things – seeing hope in a hopeless time, the generosity of volunteers at a church event, a spirited game of water balloon toss and the belly-laughs shared with new friends.

Abundant life in Christ is “eating, drinking and being merry” in the joy that God offers us each day, every day, not  in THINGS, but in friendship, in experiences, in a relationships, in sharing a meal together.

Today we eat and drink the meal Jesus offers us. We eat and drink as a family of God, as a commitment to one another and to God that we will live in Christ’s example. We will look for hope, cling to those we love and share our abundance with others.  May we be disciples of the Christ who enjoy life, living abundant the joy that God grants us all. Amen.

  1. Brian Stoffregen found on
  2. Ibid