Photo by Alan King on Unsplash
If life is all about getting rich so that we can indulge in ourselves, we would end up climbing a ladder that is leaning against the wrong wall. You get to the top and discover that you have missed the point. I think this is the main lesson that Jesus is teaching in the parable in Luke 12:13-21.
In Luke 12, Jesus was teaching His disciples to trust Him in all things, even in life and death.
Jesus was challenging people to fear God, not to fear man. But in the midst of His deep teaching, a man suddenly asked Jesus to settle a family dispute.
Not only was it inappropriate, this man was focussing on the trivial when Jesus was dealing with the sublime things of life. Jesus could have easily solved the problem but instead asked: “Man, who appointed me a judge and an arbiter between you?”
Why did Jesus do that?
Many people wanted Jesus to solve their problems, but they never really want Him to change their hearts.
Jesus discerned that this man had a deeper issue of the heart – greed. And He cautioned in Luke 12:15: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”
Greed is trouble
Greed is a powerful force that can draw us away from God. When greed rules in our hearts, we are never satisfied; the more you get, the more you want. And when greed has done its work in our lives, it will make slaves out of us.
Once we bow our knee to Mammon, he enslaves us and his grip is so tight, it is difficult to break loose except by the power of God.
Greed will ultimately get us into trouble. In God’s eyes, greed is no small thing.
Greed is tantamount to idolatry.
Do you know greed is tantamount to idolatry? In Ephesians 5:5, Paul said: “For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a person is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”
He said it again in Colossians 3:5-6: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”
That is how serious greed is.
How should we view wealth?
God wants to prosper us. He wants to give us all we need to be generous.
So when God prospers you and you become a rich man or if you are already rich, bear in mind these four perspectives at all times:
#1 My prosperity comes from God above, not me alone
When the farmer in the parable looked at his bumper crop, did you notice he did not see the hand of God? He saw only himself.
There were 11 references to himself in this short parable: “My crops”, “my barns”, “my grains”, “my goods”, “I will tear this down”, “I will build that up”, “I will store this and that”.
Wealth is a blessing from God to be enjoyed by man but we need to realise that, if God has blessed us with wealth, we need to see it as a gift from God.
Look at Job, who had everything but lost it all overnight. And his response? “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21)
Job was a man who had riches but his riches never had him.
He had everything and lost everything and he was still able to praise God in a time of great loss. Why? Because he recognised in the first place that the Lord gives.
If you really believe that your wealth comes from God – “the Lord gives” – then if the Lord takes it away, you can still say blessed be the name of the Lord because you recognise it is a gift from God.
Job was a man who had riches but his riches never had him.
We also need to recognise that the ability to enjoy the wealth that we have, whether it is little or much, is a God-given grace.
For those of us who are constantly complaining we don’t have enough, “my car is too old”, “my house is too small”, “my computer outdated”, be thankful. Realise that to be able to enjoy the little that we have is a grace from God.
The key is to be grateful for what God has blessed us with and recognise that our prosperity is from God above, not from ourselves alone.
#2 My goal is to invest, not to indulge
If we have no regard for God, we will end up with no concern for others. (Luke 12:21) The greedy man cares only for himself, he has no concern for others.
When greed comes into our lives, compassion goes out the window.
Instead of indulging, we should learn to invest, not just in ourselves but in others as well. We invest not just in our own things, we invest in the things of the kingdom.
One of the keys to success is to help other people to succeed.
#3 My priority is people, not possessions
When greed rules, there will never be enough money and possessions. (Luke 12:18)
Do not wear yourself out to get rich. Proverbs 23:4
Greed has a way of gripping men. It has, in fact, gripped the whole of our society and its grip can be so strong, it can make us irrational.
Those who have lost the battle with greed are characterised by anxiety and materialism. Yet, the Bible reminds us to not wear ourselves out to get rich. (Proverbs 23:4-5)
In 2 Corinthians 9:10-11, the apostle Paul likened wealth to seed and he tells us that God desires to increase our store of seed. Seeds are meant for sowing, so that we can reap a harvest which will then allow us to be generous on every occasion. This generosity is ultimately for God’s glory, resulting in thanksgiving to God.
Dethrone materialism by taking some of your supply of seed and then learn to sow it back to the kingdom. Sow it into fertile soil that will cause the kingdom to grow.
#4 My perspective is heavenly, not earthly
Notice the rich man’s philosophy in life? He said: “Now, take life easy. Eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19). Then in Luke 12:20, the Lord said to him: “You fool! Tonight, your life will be demanded from you. And then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
Treasures in heaven are laid up when treasures on earth are laid down.
Jesus warns us of the danger of hoarding wealth as we can easily lose it in two ways: You either lose it while you are alive, through some bad decisions and bad investment, or you will definitely lose it when you die (Ecclesiastes 5:13-15). We cannot trust money for our security.
It is good to be reminded about the temporal nature of wealth. Matthew 6:19-20 tell us to not store up treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves can break in and steal. But store up treasures for yourself in heaven. And treasures in heaven are laid up when treasures on earth are laid down.
Why don’t we ask God to set our hearts free from greed and covetousness? Ask God to set us free to enjoy whatever He has blessed us with, whether little or much, instead of striving to get more. Because in Luke 12:15, Jesus urges us: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
This message was first shared by Pastor Benny at a marketplace meeting on April 27, 2018. To get connected to a marketplace group, email firstname.lastname@example.org.