MAIN TEXT: Luke 12:13-21
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying,“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down mybarns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Inspired by the book: “Money: God or Gift” by Jamie Munson. Used with permission.
Today we start a three-week series from the Gospel of Luke chapter 12. The big idea of this series is that money can either be your god or you can use it to worship your God. We are excited to be able to go through a book together that is a powerful resource for all of us to be on mission with our money. We invite you to go through this in groups, as a couple, or individually.
In our text, Jesus is talking about money. He tells a parable about a rich fool after someone in the crowd requested that Jesus settle a dispute between he and his brother about their inheritance.
Wealth and possessions are a huge theme of the Bible. The Old and New Testaments combined have about 800 passages on wealth – including saving, spending, investing, tithing, running a business, and running a family budget. Jesus spoke a lot about wealth, too. About 25% of the time Jesus is teaching about money, wealth, and possessions including this section of Luke.
Four Biblical Categories of People and their Wealth
- The Righteous Rich: The way that they attain wealth is righteous. They work hard. They invest smart. God blesses them and things go well. What they do with their riches is righteous. They give to God. They give to the poor. They take care of their family. They pay their bills. You can be righteous and rich.
- The Unrighteous Rich: They get money in ways that is very dishonoring to God. These are people that rip others off. They conduct unacceptable business practices. These folks hoard their money and keep it for themselves only. They do not give to God. They do not help the poor. They are selfish. The man that we look at today in Luke 12 would fall into this category.
- The Righteous Poor: They get their money through honest means but they do not have much. They manage their money well. They give to God. They give to others in need. They pay their bills. They are generous to others. Jesus honored a woman who had little and gave very generously.
- The Unrighteous Poor: They do not work hard. They don’t save. They do not plan or act responsibly about their future. If they get more money they are not wise with it. They would be poor regardless of how much money they had. They do not care for others and they do not consider God and His plan for the earth. They are in a cycle of folly.
We must not only think in worldly terms: rich and poor. We must also think in biblical terms. Proverbs talks a lot about those that do not work, chase fantasies and get rich schemes. Jesus was righteous and poor. Jesus was righteous and rich. In heaven, Jesus was rich and righteous. On earth, Jesus was poor and righteous. The issue for us is not whether we are rich or poor – it is whether we are righteous or unrighteous. The issue is how we obtain money and steward the resources that God has entrusted to us.
Coveting or Content?
Are we coveting or are we content? Look at our text in Luke 12:13-15. The man’s question was not Jesus’ priority. Jesus cared more about relationship and eternity. The man was consumed with coveting. He is worried that his brother will get more of an inheritance. So Jesus responds, “Be on your guard against all covetousness”. Coveting is a sin. God calls us to contentment. Today, advertising exists to create in you a sense of discontentedness. Not coveting is the tenth commandment (Exodus 20:17).
Jesus tells us to guard against coveting. The way you guard your heart against coveting is to worship God. Worship Him alone. To covet is to worship an idol. Colossians 3:5 says that coveting is idolatry and we must put it to death. The grieving during our recession has to do with our “hope”, our “love”, our “idols” letting us down. Greed and idolatry are one in the same.
Foolish or Faithful?
Jesus continues with a parable, (Luke 12:16-20). The story is about a man who obtained great wealth and died. His sin was not the great wealth. His sin was that he worshipped his wealth. He was foolish. He got greedy, covetous, and he hoarded. This became his goal for life. As Americans, we have built bigger and bigger barns. In the last thirty years American family size is down 25% and house sizes are up 50%. Enough never seems enough. Historically and globally we are rich.
Jesus is rebuking the self-centeredness of this man. He was at the center of his own life. Are we the center of our life? Are all of our possessions for our consumption? Are we giving nothing toward God? Are we giving nothing toward the poor? Are we giving nothing toward anyone? Jesus is saying that that is foolish. The man did not give generously to the cause of God.
God or Gift?
Is our wealth our god or a gift from our God? Jesus ends the teaching saying in verse 21, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” What made this man a fool was the reason that he stored wealth, “for himself”. You can be spiritually poor toward God, though financially rich. Jesus cancels our debt to God. His righteousness makes us rich.
We shouldn’t have a prosperity theology or a poverty theology. We need a generous theology. Desire to be a good steward. Invest and work well. Pay your bills. Take care of your family. Look after your church. Give to the poor. Help those in need. Leave a legacy. Make a difference. Be a faithful servant. Worship God with your wealth. Use whatever you get to honor God.
Rich Toward God
What does it mean to be rich toward God? 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 has a lot to say about giving generously. Giving regularly according to Biblical patterns of giving is being rich toward God. Giving sacrificially is a part of being rich toward God. Being rich toward God means to give cheerfully.
Choose to be righteous. Choose to be generous. Choose to be faithful. Choose to be a good worshipper with your wealth. Choose to be a good steward. Choose to help the poor and fund the work of the gospel.
Choose to be rich toward God!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the new commandment “love your neighbor” (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Luke 12:13-21
Describe the 21st Century, urban equivalent of ‘building bigger barns’.
In what ways do you notice that you covet other people’s possession? How does this affect your heart toward God?
Are riches inherently bad? Why or why not? What does the Bible call us to concerning our riches?
Take a moment to reflect on the ways that the Gospel is communicated to us through financial terms.