But he doesn't give the money to the poor. In fact, he doesn't get rid of the money at all. Instead, he gets rid of his attachment to it. He dies to self (ego) "in such a way that there remains no inclination either to keep the acquired money or to dispose of it."
The point of the parable? The money is not the issue. The attachment to it is.
The Jesuits call it cultivating an attitude of "indifference." I might also call it being "unattached" or "holding things loosely." As I revisit the question, "What if you were free? What then?" hour by hour, I am seeing some things that I am attached to that are keeping me from being truly free.
I actually love the imagery conjured by the words: Free vs. Attached. I saw a movie recently, called Jumper, in which the main character could instantly transport anywhere in the world just by picturing the location in his mind. The only way to trap him was to physcially "attach" him to a huge structure, like a building--something that was too weighty for him to transport with him. He was literally held captive by the things he was attached to.
So I have a few big things of my own that I've been attached to. And they are holding me back from living free:
* I'm attached to the trappings of external success--financial success, as well as the recognition and respect from my colleagues in the fields of church leadership and creative writing.
* I'm attached to the idea of impacting & influencing large groups of people--through my writing, coaching and speaking--as "evidence" that I'm okay, or "have arrived" somehow.
The problem isn't about these particular indicators of success. The problem is my attachment to them. It's a classic example of "Jesus and..." As in, "All I need is Jesus...and this lamp" (It's a "The Jerk" movie reference...look it up, youngin' :). To be content, to be truly satisfied and feel okay about myself or my life, I need Jesus and...something else--fame, wealth, good looks, nice stuff, a beautiful woman on my arm, success, respect & reputation--whatever it is you don't think you can live without. There's nothing inherently wrong with having any of those things. But if you want to be free, there is something very wrong with needing to posses any of them in order to feel okay about yourself.
"For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:11-13).
I think Paul is describing what it looks like to live free...unattached to either riches or poverty, to either fame or obscurity. But in whatever circumstance, fully abandoned to God, who alone is the Source of true freedom.
"For if the Son will set you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:16).