Luke 12:13 ¶ Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Luke 12:14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
Luke 12:15 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.”
Luke 12:16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully,
Luke 12:17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’
Luke 12:18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
Luke 12:19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’
Luke 12:20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
Luke 12:21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Are we far enough away from Black Friday to talk about this? Because we need to talk.
This teaching from Jesus started because one brother was hoarding the inheritance from the other. One guy was (justly or unjustly, we don’t know) keeping what the other brother wanted. In his plea for justice, he revealed covetousness in both of them.
This draws all of the way back to the Ten Commandments: Ex. 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
Coveting is so deeply ingrained into the way we live, the way we motivate our kids, the way are motivated by our bosses, and the ways we relate to one another, I’m not even sure we’re aware of it. It’s like water for fish in our culture.
This simple statement by Jesus draws us directly to the truth:
one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions
At the core of that statement we find the way to live like the Acts 2 church that shared all that they had with one another. We find the way the Israelites lived when “there were no poor among them.” (Dt 15:4 if they had done it right.)
Our eating, drinking, and merry-making aren’t to the glory of our stuff, or Mammon (the only Pagan diety called out by name by Jesus) but instead to the glory of Yahweh. Our trust was never meant to be in the bulk of our savings account, but in the One who provides everything we need.
In the last part of this teaching, Jesus calls a man a fool who is rich toward himself but stingy toward God. “The things you’ve prepared, whose will they be [when you’re dead]?” This is the classic statement of “you can’t take it with you.”
A person’s life doesn’t consist in the stuff they have (or even in the stuff they don’t have!) but in their trust in God. Whenever you get a sale thrown in your face this ‘holiday’ season, worship God. Develop a culture of thankfulness and praise in the middle of our culture of covetousness.
It’s unlikely that anyone reading this needs more stuff, but we could all use some greater influence from the Lord. Let’s put that on our wishlist and go after it.
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