Consider the godly wealth that is yours. Luke preaches discipleship ~ what it means to be a follower of Christ. Jesus Christ wants us to feel secure ~ a spiritual security. The Lord wants us to have peace, based on His love for us, not in what we have accomplished or accumulated. This scripture contrasts the person who is seeking security by gathering a bit more vs. the person who finds peace and satisfaction in seeking after the things of God. The Monster Called More ~ Greed ~ does motivate people.
Once there was a burglar who was caught and brought before a judge. He was found guilty. The judge asked the man if he had anything to say before he was sentenced. He said, “Well, you know, Your Honor, it’s like this. The more a man has, the more a man wants”. The judge replied, “Is that so? Well, I tell you what. I’m going to sentence you to 15 years in jail. How many more would you like?”
This scripture is about attitudes, where you find security… Be Rich Towards God. As you grow in your faith the more you will find satisfaction in Jesus. Nobody, no circumstance, can take away your joy in the Lord. Find your identity in him and you will be a man/women of extraordinary wealth.
A brother came to Jesus in Luke 12:13 and wanted Jesus to settle a dispute over an estate. Jesus is all for fairness, but that is not the issue here, there are many scriptures about doing the right thing and being fair to other people. Jesus penetrates to a deeper level and addresses the motivation of the brother. READ Luke 12:14-15. This brother is like the burglar, motivated by greed, a little more, a little more… They both only cared about themselves. The rich farmer in Jesus’ parable is the same: He cared only for himself and hoarding his abundance ~ just a little more. The farmer was so concerned about his earthly success he forgot about the one who was responsible for everything he had: GOD.
Earthly treasures are limited. They provide only temporary satisfaction. The most enduring treasured possessions are not even about the possessions themselves, but the memories they evoke or the story they tell: perhaps the dresser in your house that belonged to a wonderful grandmother. A painting. That’s riches.
Sally and I have a framed rose on the wall. The evening we were married we went to dinner. Sally started complaining because they had a plant in the middle of the table casting a shadow over the menu. She couldn’t read, she kept complaining. Finally I urged her to take a closer look at the plant. It was a dozen red roses that somebody wonderful and awesome had ordered and arranged to be on the table waiting for her ~ the only time in 35 years of knowing her that I managed to surprise her with anything! The faded rose on our wall is a cherished moment. The best possessions aren’t even about the possessions, but the people, the story, bringing joy and peace. That’s why family photos are so important…
We need shelter, / clothing, / food, / beauty, /delight. Be appreciative of what you have. Lower the line of what you need so that you can say “I am content”. Give the Lord credit for all you do have. Find joy in the pleasures the Lord gives you, the simple life, that is what it means to be rich towards God. And give to others out of the abundance that the Lord has given to you. The person who continuously thanks the Lord for what he has and doesn’t take anything for granted is indeed rich…
The person who takes inventory of his life and concludes I deserve this, I earned that, is poor. I love the phrase, “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” But the man who takes inventory of his life and concludes it is more than he deserves, that man is rich.
Here’s a helpful way of understanding the world. I remember back in the late 70s when Jimmy Carter was president, there was a gas shortage. For the first time in my memory, there were long lines at gas stations. People would wait for hours. The gas shortages did something psychologically to the nation. For decades the message was that there was an unlimited abundance of goods in our nation. The U.S. was the promised land, flowing with milk and honey. Work hard and everyone could have as much as you want.
Ever since that day, it’s like we want to continue living as if everyone can have abundance of everything, but then we turn around realizing the pie is only so big and how are we going to slice it fairly. The reality is that resources are limited. Greed is alive and well. There will always be unfairness, jostling for power, wealth, accumulation. Those who find peace and contentment in whatever they have and see life as a gift from God are the richest of folks. The disciple of Christ who finds satisfaction in the small things, the joy of a simple life, appreciation of having enough, is rich.
It helps me to walk through life understanding stuff is limited and others have needs ~ that helps me have a spirit of sharing, giving my time. The shed out back is an important buidling. It’s the in and out building for furniture… It represents abundance of one person being passed on to the need of another….
I don’t know how to sort through fair distribution of food and homes to all people. But I know this, rather than building a bigger barn to house more of my grain for my gain is not god honoring. There has to be a line of how much is enough.
The farmer who wanted to build bigger barns lost perspective of what is most important. READ Luke 12:18-20. Your eternal salvation is all that ultimately matters. Eternity and a loving relationship with God puts life in perspective. Eternal life is waiting for those who give themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in Christ can we make it through heartache and loss, looking to him when loved ones die knowing that someday there will be a heavenly reunion, understanding present injustice is temporary, and earthly security can vanish so quickly…
Chad and I went to see some people this week, a few who are living in poverty, tough situations…Chad pointed out how important the reality of heaven is to those who aren’t sure how life will ever sort out on this earth. …an eternal perspective.
To be rich towards God is to keep a true perspective on what is important, it is to care about others rather than propping up yourself with a little bit more, it is to invest in the things that are important to God: people. It is to be able to distinguish between what is temporary and what is eternal. To be rich towards God is to let your appreciation for what you have outweigh sorrow of what you don’t have.
Goods are limited in this world. But the love of God is unlimited! Someone once said Christianity is too limiting because the road to salvation is so narrow. It’s true: only through Jesus Christ can you find salvation. But guess what? All are welcome to walk the road. That’s why you can be greedy for the things of God! There is room for all. The third verse from the hymn, “The Love of God”: “Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made, were every stalk on earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above would drain the oceans dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole, that stretched from sky to sky.” The love of God is unlimited. God’s love is so amazing as far as the east is from the west, he takes away our sins (Ps. 103:12).
What does the disciple of Christ look like that is rich towards the things of God?
- A healthy perspective on the stuff of this world as temporary. We need basics of life, but this world will end. The farmer who wanted bigger barns ultimately had no security from his wealth.
- A healthy perspective on the eternal things of God. Someone said, “Be interested in your future, because you are going to spend the rest of your life there”.
- Have limits on what we need for ourselves: do we really need a bigger barn? Do we really need a larger slice of the inheritance? Let the things of the world take care of themselves. The rich person knows in his heart he has enough.
- Understand resources of earth are limited and in this world not everyone has enough. Poverty did not come from God. God created enough for everyone. We are called to put others above ourselves: lift up the disadvantaged, the hurting, the struggling. As the old saying goes, instead of loving people and using things, we end up unhappily loving things and using people. If we are rich towards God we will passionately love people as he has love towards all.
- To be rich towards God is to seek the things of God. God’s love for you is unending. You can be greedy for God because there is more than enough for all who call on his name. A relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important decision you will ever make, for that is what puts the pains and suffering, the disappointments into perspective, for all that is temporary. A relationship with Jesus Christ is what causes us to put our hope in the future, and not find security in building a bigger barn.
Be Rich Towards the things of God. I knew a wonderful man in my days of San Francisco in the late 80s that was diagnosed with AIDS right before Sally and I arrived in the Church. Mark was such a gracious man that took what later turned out to be a death sentence and turned his life around. He had grown up in the Church, wandered away for decades, and now came back to the Lord. His whole perspective changed. Suddenly the patterns of his world, his goals, were not important. God became his focus/life/ joy/delight. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for any musicians I have worked with, for they are the angels of the worship service….Mark could make the piano come alive as he so much delighted in playing for the Lord. One day he told me, “Carl, my friends that knew me in my old life want to know why I seem happier now that I have AIDS, compared to how unhappy I was when I didn’t know I had AIDS. It gives me a chance to tell them about Jesus.” Mark was dying, but he was rich towards God.
The wealth of God is yours. Follow Him. Give your life to Jesus Christ. Become a disciple, seeking the unlimited abundance of his love. Only the life lived for Christ allows us to keep in perspective the difference between what is temporary and what is eternal. The love of Christ will cause us to find contentment and peace, knowing that on this earth whatever he gives us is grace. To be rich towards God is to cherish everyday. To be rich towards God is to know his abundance of joy and peace is unlimited. Be rich towards God! Amen.