Leo Tolstoy illustrated the trap of “more” in “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” A Russian peasant farmer is proud of his simple lifestyle, but he needs some land. He buys a few acres from a local landowner but has conflicts with his neighbors. So he moves where he can have more land. He is successful, and looks for more land. He meets some nomads who have no use for farmland. They tell him that, for 1000 rubles, he can buy all their land covered in a day of walking. He should mark his path with a spade along the way, and, if he can make it back to where he started by sundown, he gets the land he covered. He keeps going farther and farther because he keeps seeing land ahead that he wants. When it comes time to turn back, he has to run as fast as he can back to his starting point. When he gets there, he falls down exhausted, and the nomads congratulate him. But he doesn’t hear them, because he’s dead. Greed killed him.
The last line of Tolstoy’s story says it well: “[The man’s] servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for [him] to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”
This Sunday we continue our series of Postcards from the Road of Faith looking at First Timothy 6: 6-10, 17-19 with its focus on contentment.