Rich Toward God
Rich Toward God Luke 12:13-21 August 4, 2019
We are going to be spending some time in the gospel of Luke for the next three weeks and we’ll be in one chapter, chapter twelve. I would encourage you to read that chapter and get familiar with what it contains. This morning we pickup with a story and parable. Let’s begin with verses 13.
Read Luke 12:13-21
The Flawed Request Let’s not pass up the subtle but important event that prompted Jesus to tell his parable about the rich farmer. Luke tells us that a man requested of Jesus, “tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” V.13 It’s not because the man asked Jesus to do something; but it is because of what the man wanted that was flawed.
Application - Let’s not pass up considering that the man is not alone. We all have and will make request to God that are flawed. We want God to make someone see we’re right and they’re wrong. We want to be delivered from suffering; but we pray others have the strength to endure theirs.
I think it is appropriate to pause for a moment and consider whether we are in the midst of asking a flawed request of God for something about our lives.
My Fair Share Then there is the situation before us, the man wanted his fair share of family inheritance.
Jesus responded, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” v.15
The Message Bible states that same verse as this, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” V.15
So, there it is Jesus once again warning about the distorted way we can view possessions. He warns against the way our hearts can be affectionate toward anything we can hold with our hands whether it’s a stack of hundred-dollar bills, the latest cell phone, keys to a fine car, purses, shoes, or tools from Harbor Freight or Lowe’s.
But just remember Jesus said, take care against all forms of greed.
Then he tells the parable that most of us have heard numerous times. A farmer realized his harvest of crops was going to be successful. He decided to tear down all of his barns and build larger barns to store his harvest. He thinks having larger barns will give him the assurance to kick back and enjoy life.
And Jesus used this farmer who has done well with crops, has cheated no one to gain what he has obtained – to say the following.
But God said to the farmer. “You fool. This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”
Cold words from Jesus to rub in the face of the man who had worked to accumulate. “And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” v.20 So much for the image of God/Jesus softly and tenderly calling out to us!
The Big Jolt! See, this story would have really jolted the people Jesus addressed for two reasons. These were people who were most likely entrenched in the Old Testament mindset that a sign of being right with God will be blessings like, having children, a great harvest of crops and livestock. Read Deuteronomy 26 as one example of blessings for obedience.
However, Jesus challenges that notion with this parable. His teaching about what happened to the farmer goes right along with his words found in Matthew 5:45 when he said God sends the rain on the just and the unjust. Just because you have material assets or blessings doesn’t mean you are right with God. Just because you experience suffering doesn’t mean you are being punished.
Also consider how jolting this was for the people gathered around Jesus. Poverty in the days of Jesus was sky high. Luke starts off this chapter by saying, “Meanwhile when the crowd gathered by the thousands…” (v.1) Most of the people gathered around Jesus only knew they had enough food for that day. Give us this day our daily bread was literally their reality. Most folks there would think, “yeah that would be so great to know where tomorrow’s meal is coming from and even for the week.”
The parable is used by Jesus to remind us the security and fulfillment that your heart may be longing for today is just an illusion if it is in anything other than God. Life is ultimately a spiritual reality not a material reality.
Here is another question this parable raises. What is your barn? What is it that draws and calls you to desire more? What is it that makes us think, “if only I... then all would be well?”
The Deeper Truth this parable exposes us to is our desire to control our happiness through things rather than fully relying on God. When our
happiness depends on what we have instead of God, we are really living out a form of practical atheism. We can say we trust God, but our barns in whatever form they come are our greatest source of comfort; instead of God.
Jesus said, “And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” v.20 “So, it is with those who store up treasures for themselves; but are not rich toward God.”
We really have nothing if we don’t have connection with God.
Illustration: In 1923 at Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel a group of the world’s most successful men held a meeting. Assembled were the president of the largest steel corporation; the greatest wheat speculator; a man who was to be president of the New York Stock Exchange; a member of the President of the United States’ cabinet; the canniest investor on Wall street; a future director of the World Bank for International Settlements and the head of the world’s largest monopoly. A few years later this was their fate; Charles Schwab died in debt; Arthur Cutten died abroad in obscurity; Richard Whitney became insolvent, did time in prison and was blotted out from the Who’s Who; Leon Fraser, and Ivar Kreuger, the match king, committed suicide. All learned how to make money. None learned how to live.” (Danker, commentary on Luke, p.249)
TRANSITION TO SOLUTIONS • Let’s say we don’t want to wind up like the farmer in the parable. • Let’s say we see where we have depended more than we should on things for our sense of well-being than we ought should, so what do we do? • How do we embrace the truth of Jesus that “living is more than having?” (Danker, p.249) How do we live so we are rich toward God?
It seems the answer comes in the follow-up passage when Jesus speaks about our tendency to allow ourselves to become anxious. I am just going to share the phrases where Jesus said things like,
1.) Do not worry v.22, 25, 26 & 29
• “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or about your body, what you will wear.” v.22 • “And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? V.25 • “…why do you worry about the rest.” V.26 • “…and do not keep worrying…” v.29
I need to tell you that Jesus does not use the same word for worry in all four passages. But it is fair to say the definition for worry is becoming anxiousness about things in life before they even happen. Then the fourth time Jesus mentions worry, there is an interesting meaning behind the word.
New Testament scholar Fredrick Danker states that the fourth time Jesus used a form of the word worry, he used a word-picture of a person who is suspended between heaven and earth, that is a person who lacks a firm place on which to stand. (Danker, p.251)
If we want to be rich toward God, let’s at least do this much, that when we find ourselves anxious, admit that to ourselves and realize we’re momentarily for whatever reason not exercising faith God will provide. Worry means to have that question in our hearts that God doesn’t have the situation covered.
(2.) Secondly, resolve the worry, teach the worry, comfort the worry by giving consideration for evidence to trust in the greatness of God; rather than worry what we’re going to do.
Jesus said things like, “Consider the ravens (buzzards) they neither sow nor reap, they have neither store house or barn and yet God feeds them v.24…Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet, even Solomon in all his glory is not clothed like one of these…”27
In other words, Jesus said, look at creation itself and the wonder of nature to know God is here present with you.
Paul said something similar in Romans 1:20 “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through what he has made.”
Maybe some would argue that such reasons are for the simple-minded; but I don’t think so.
I learned recently about a man name Dr. Flew. • Flew was professor of philosophy in England. He died in 2010. • Most of his life was lived as an atheist and wrote books to support atheism. • Toward the end of his life he changed his mind and said he believed there was intelligent design (God) behind the creation of the universe.
Dr. Flew said, there were two factors in particular for his change in faith. One was my growing empathy with the insight of Einstein and other noted scientists that there had to be an Intelligence behind the integrated complexity of the physical Universe. The second was my own insight that the integrated complexity of life itself—which is far more complex than the physical Universe—can only be explained in terms of an Intelligent Source. I believe that the origin of life and reproduction simply cannot be explained from a biological standpoint despite numerous efforts to do so. With every passing year, the more that was discovered about the richness and inherent intelligence of life, the less it
seemed likely that a chemical soup could magically generate the genetic code. (Source Dr. Benjamin Wiker)
Jesus was saying strengthen your worries and become rich in toward God by looking around at this world God has created – then you’ll have a faith you can stand on.
(3.) “Strive for his (God’s) kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.” v.31 Last of all, Jesus said something he was constantly telling any who would listen. Seek first the kingdom of God – Matthew 6:33.
Seek first to experience God and be led by his will.
The kingdom of God language in the Bible is always referring God’s leadership over our hearts.
Being rich toward God means to move toward God and be part of wherever we sense God is at work in and around us.
Some of you are familiar with the work of William Blackaby. Blackaby is Christian, pastor and church planter, he would say, “wherever you sense God is at work - join him.”
Become rich toward God as we sense God is inviting us to join his movement. The movement may be a cause in the community. It might be to follow closely what is going on with a friend so you can support or what God might teach you through the life of another. God’s movement may be our choice to put a passage of scripture to work in our hearts and actions. When we are connect to the God who is everything we possess the greatest riches.