Early in Moss Hart’s career as a Broadway playwright, he tried desperately to overhaul the dull third act of an ailing play. After a dozen agonizing rewrites, he decided his favorite scene, along with its elaborate and expensive set, had to go. The scenery had captured the plot and was holding the dialog hostage.

No longer bound by the overpowering set, Hart rewrote with a new freedom and flexibility. The third act came to life, and Once In A Lifetime became the biggest hit of 1930.

Looking back, Hart said, “A play can be blackmailed by its scenery more often than anyone connected with it is likely to realize.”

His words cause me to reconsider the truth so powerfully expressed by Jesus: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12:15).

“Watch out,” I hear Jesus saying, as I set the stage of my life with things I consider essential. “Be on guard, or the things you own will begin to own you.”

The scenery of a play belongs in the background, not in the spotlight. The same is true of our possessions. When we clear center stage for Jesus Christ and keep the focus on Him, He will bring our story to life.