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The past few weeks have been quite reflective for me personally.
– About 3 weeks ago I received a text that one of our church members had a house fire. In the days ahead it sparked conversations between my wife & I – “What would we want to save or what would we miss most if we were experiencing similar circumstances?”
– 2 weeks ago I entered into a third world country – Nicaragua. Before the trip there were conversations about caution for security. Someone asked me, “Do you really think you should go since your wife is pregnant?” And yet, what struck me most about Nic was not protection but poverty.
- Primitive living: houses were blocks with tin or trees, outhouses, limited water supply, food scarce…
- literacy rate is under 60%; education is a luxury in many cases
- 45% lives on less than $1 day; 80% lives on less than $2 day
- 2nd poorest in Western Hemisphere (to Haiti)
- 27% suffer from undernourishment
– 1 week ago I was packed and moved all possessions into a new home. Unpacking reminds us of how much stuff we have and yet how little majority of it is unused.
Consider our culture and even your own life for a moment. What are the priorities of life for the world and then for yourself? What do I prize most? Where is my treasure?
Greed is a consuming influence in society today. We see, we desire, we demand and we satisfy our greedy cravings only to receive the unfulfilling longing for more. It was said that John D. Rockefeller was asked “How much money is enough?” His reply was “Just a little bit more.”
The Scriptures describe this mindset as “vanity and a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). And more, Jesus speaks to the heart issue of greed with great frequency. Today’s message is a parable Jesus tells to a person who is engulfed with greed. It is about the priorities & treasures of life. It reminds us to hold the things of this world loosely. Material possessions, fortune, fame are all temporary and can be lost in an instant. Jesus wants us to realize that what we supremely value will define our life; and if we want to live lives of significance, we must live for what is eternal. Only our relationships with God and others will count for eternity. The only thing you can take to heaven is other people. Where is your treasure?
EXAMINE Luke 12:13-34
To begin, we must understand what is happening in context. Jesus is teaching to a crowd of many thousands (12:1). Jesus has gained a reputation as a great teacher with authority, a miracle worker and healer and even as the divine Messiah. Yet, in the middle of his teaching someone in the crowd interjects a command for Jesus to solve a family dispute. Side Note: Family’s Matter; Jesus has the best counsel for families.
Jesus does not solve the problem but warns of the potential destruction this man is headed toward. God seldom, if at all, waves a magic wand to remove problems – instead He gives us His good word and gives us the responsibility to obey or reject. If you have problems stop waiting for magic and start worshiping the Messiah.
“Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness” – Jesus
ð Jesus’ warning is to guard [beware, keep watch] against greed.
ð Then the parable He tells provides 3 principles to defining the treasure and priorities of your life.
Life is more than possessions (12:15-18).
As Jesus warns this man and the crowd about the danger of greed, he tells them a story or parable. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Typically there is one central truth to the story; not every detail of the story has an exact meaning but each culminates toward a grand principle or purpose.
The parable Jesus tells is about a man who is materialistic. His property and possessions have produced great profit. These have all led to pride and greed. His land is very productive, so much so that he does not have enough place to store all his grain and goods. By any means this is a huge blessing. He could have used the blessing of his possessions, property and profit to bless others. However, his greed would not allow him to give to others.
Greed and generosity are always incompatible values. So, the man built bigger barns to selfishly store up for himself. Having or accumulating possessions cannot be the ultimate goal in life because such items will not last forever. They wear down and out. They cannot emotionally or spiritually relate to your individual soul. Even replacing our possessions with new ones only offer temporary novelty. The point is we need more than material possessions to bring satisfaction in life.
ð In Nicaragua we handed out flip-flops (shoes). After trying to match the gender colors to the appropriate person in line it occurred to us that the people did not care. Shoes were something to cover their feet not to create their identity. YET, in America we use clothing and material possessions to make fashion statements and generate style or unique personality.
ð What material possession do you have that if you lost would effect your attitude, mood and perspective in life? What does this say about your identity and life?
Luke 18:18-25 18 A ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God. 20 You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.” 21 “I have kept all these from my youth,” he said. 22 When Jesus heard this, He told him, “You still lack one thing: sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” 23 After he heard this, he became extremely sad, because he was very rich. 24 Seeing that he became sad, Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
ð Unbelievers: Realize that accumulation of possessions is hidden need to fill a void that can never be filled by things of this world.
- Money & Possessions are not ultimate.
- The more we have the more we want.
- The more we have the more we waste.
- The more we have the more we worry.
Ecclesiastes 5:12 “Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.”
Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings flying like an eagle toward heaven.”
Only a relationship with Jesus Christ, who gives unconditional love and full acceptance, can fill the hidden void in your life. There is a God shaped hole in your heart which only the cross is the key.
ð Believers: Realize that your identity is not found in blessings but the Blesser. We must own our possessions and not allow them to own us.
“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:2-3
Life is more than pleasure (12:19).
The greedy man not only takes pride in his possessions but also in pleasure. He finds comfort in his life of ease. His reasoning in building bigger barns is so he can store up grain without having to work over his next several years. He puffs himself up with idle self-esteem talk: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink and be merry.” This was nothing but self-indulgent pleasure and foolish laziness.
Most people think that wealth will provide pleasure and satisfaction. After time many have said their experience leaves them lonely and unhappy. Even secular psychology says that money & possessions can only bring a certain level of happiness.
– Psychologists did study on people who received $20 bill and surveyed happiness based on if they spent it on themselves or were instructed to do so on others.
– Psychologists did study on toddlers whom were given goldfish and then observed & surveyed happiness based on their own reception of the snack or when they could give it to pet monkey or puppets.
– *Both cases showed that being generous and giving away possessions brings a greater joy.
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure… Yet… everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Ecclesiastes 2:10-11
ð Pleasure is found in God alone.
Isaiah 55:1-2 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me and eat what is good and delight yourselves in rich food.”
Psalm 16:4, 11 “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply… [but] You [O God], make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Blaise Pascal was a French mathematical genius who was born June 19, 1623. After running from God until he was 31 years old, on November 23, 1654 at 10:30 pm, Pascal met God and was profoundly and unshakably converted to Jesus Christ. He wrote it down on a piece of parchment and sewed into his coat where it was found after his death eight years later. It said, “Year of grace 1654, Monday 23 November, feast of St. Clement . . . from about half past ten at night to about half an hour after midnight, FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars. Certitude, heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ. God of Jesus Christ. “My God and your God.” . . . Joy, Joy, Joy, tears of joy. . . Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ. May I never be separated from him.”
Life is preparation (12:20-21).
Though the man’s life had consisted of multiple possessions and pleasure he was unprepared for the ultimate end which faces every person, rich or poor. God’s judgment on the man’s life was summed up in one word – foolish. In the Greek there are 2 words for foolish: μωρός (lacking integrity or character; empty hearted) ἄφρων (lacking mental judgment or discernment; empty headed). Here Jesus used the second word implying that this man lacked understanding for what life was about. He was a fool because he only prepared his life for this world but failed to do so for the next. His treasure was in himself rather than in the eternal God.
Right now, our family has a little one being prepared in the womb. Her name will be Avee Elaine. Her life in the womb is not insignificant but preparation for life outside the womb. Likewise, your life on earth is not insignificant but preparation for life in eternity.
The reality is that we must all be prepared for such a day. Death will escape no one. No one is completely ready to leave their life but there are ways a person can prepare to end life on earth and begin life eternal. It starts with having an eternal mindset and worldview. All of life’s blessings should point to eternal realities. The blessing of possessions on earth points to the one true possession that will never fade or wear out – salvation of Jesus Christ. The blessing of pleasure on earth points to the eternal pleasures and joy dispensed by God.
The result of a person who is prepared for eternity understands Jesus’ words in Luke 12:22-34.
ð They are not anxious
ð They have plenty provision of clothing and food
ð Their value is not their net-worth but their created-worth
ð Their priority is eternity not earth
Jesus is about making everyone wealthy but not in the terms you think. It is wealth towards God not man. His goal is for you to have treasure that will not fail or cannot be taken or destroyed.
µ Where is your treasure?