The Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke, Chapter 4, verses 5–8:
“The devil led (Jesus) up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ “
This is a portion of a story within Luke’s Gospel of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness/desert. One thing that captures my attention in this reading is the use of the word “all.” It is often used to describe the darker side of the human heart within the context of greed and gluttony.
The desire to have all of something seems quite selfish. In the worst sense of the word, to have all of something, means to possess and control it only for one’s own benefit. This can be described as a turning inward upon oneself.
When I was in my twenties, I wished that I could have had wisdom.
Now that I am older, I do have more wisdom, but I have lost the spring in my step.
I learned through personal experience that both could not be achieved. In this case, I could not have it all.
Frankly, I have a difficult time believing that anyone can actually have it all. I’ve wondered, is this necessarily a bad thing?
I’ve seen some very unhappy people who have had “the career, the big house, the fancy car, and plenty of money.”
It may be a good thing that we do not have it all and thus are not totally self-sufficient. The result may be that we are greater motivated to reach outside of ourselves, for God and neighbor.
So, is it always a bad thing that we may find ourselves lacking?
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for 30 years.