Opening Thoughts: What this post is not: it is not a post for calling out the men who I know preach this well known “Prosperity Gospel”, neither is it an effort to convince you to desire God over earthly things; that would be futile on my part. My hope and prayer for this commentary is that as you read the scriptures along with me that God would open your eyes to the reason you desire to be near Him. What I mean is, for what purpose do you associate yourself with Him? The Bible makes it very clear that trusting in Jesus for the wrong set of reasons is the same as not knowing Him at all. In fact, in Matthew 7 Jesus actually uses as strong of language as “Get away from Me“, in reference to people who presumed upon salvation simply for earthly blessing and supposed gifts. I’m praying that God will grant many of you eyes that are opened to see His glorious worth, so that everything on this fleeting earth will look no more appetizing than a pile of waste in light of who He is and what He has really rescued us from.
Thinking about something else: I wonder if you’ve ever had a conversation with someone where you know very well that they aren’t listening to you the least little bit? In fact, if the truth be known, they are just waiting for a hole in your chat where they are able to dart in with what’s on their mind. Often times they will even bring up an entirely different subject all together. They may phrase it nicely like, “This is a bit of a different topic”, subtly inferring that the one you were on wasn’t really an interest to them, or that what they had to say was far more important. To prevent a “Log-In-Eye” situation I will be the first in line to say that I’ve been guilty of this all too often. This is actually one of the things that God has changed in me since I had a collision with His gospel of grace a few years back.
In our text tonight we see this very thing happen. Jesus uses a noticeably off topic interruption to reveal why so many people are mistakenly drawn to Him for the wrong reasons. Commonly it’s because they are seeking to get from Him a Gospel with benefits. Jesus is your only Hope, not your Robin Hood. He is either your every satisfaction, or He is nothing to you at all. He is your abundant life because He is your Eternal Life, not because He offers a huge earthly pay-check, or health, wealth and earthly happiness.
Luke 9:24-25 … For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
Main Text: Luke 12: 13-20 ... 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 my barns 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.”
Genie Jesus: There is so much talk these days about having “your best life now”, like people actually believe this stuff! They literally believe that Jesus want’s you to prosper, be successful and have banks filled with money. Now I’m not saying that won’t happen to some people, but it’s possible that it could be anything but a blessing. Take for instance the parable that Jesus tells in conjunction with this man’s request for wealth and a better life. He starts the parable by saying, “the land of a RICH MAN produced plentiful..”. The very reason that this man was rich was because his land produced much fruit, he should have been the most grateful man on the planet, how blessed he was indeed. He had so much wealth that his current situation was a problem. In order for him to retain all his proceeds he was going to have to act quickly. He could either give the excess away to those who needed it, or he could waste valuable money on rebuilding his entire infrastructure in order to retain it for himself and his own use and future comfort.
Awhile back I was interested in real estate, so I purchased a book called “Real Estate Investing for Canadians”. Great book, the only issue is the whole focus of the book was to visualize your dream for the money. The author called it “Your personal Belize” and the reason he called it that was because he made his dream happen by purchasing land in Belize for dirt cheap and building his dream vacation home there. All through the book he would make mention of “Your personal Belize” and what will you do for yourself once you obtain this wealth. I’m so glad that God took that desire from me, oh yes, when I say He took it from me I mean that. There was nothing I wanted more than to be stinking RICH. I wanted to make a minimum of a million dollars a year (and in my peak it wasn’t that far off). A couple years ago as my wife and I sat in our $660,000 house in “Pleasureville” while at the same time coveting the homes two blocks down that lined the river (evidently our home wasn’t big enough for the three of us), God unexpectedly got a hold of us by His irresistible grace. He shook us up and ripped the taste for wealth right out of our mouths. In a moment of time we found we were looking through different eyes, eyes that saw art hanging on our wall that could literally feed one starving child through Compassion for 3 years. Let me repeat that in case you missed it, we had one piece of art that hung above our fireplace that cost us $1,000 and to support a child in poverty for 36 months costs about $1080. In essence, a child died so that we could have a nice wall.
The Rich Fool: How are you feeling right about now? I know how I’m feeling, even as I write these words out I’m asking God to strip me of even more of my own desires and to purge me from the American dream. The man, let’s call him “the FOOL” since that’s what Jesus called him, wanted to get His entire life ready and finely furnished for his future. He wanted to live in “financial freedom” so that his worries would be over. All he would need to do was sit back and relax, enjoying what the land had provided Him.
Not Rich Toward God: Just like the man who came to Jesus and sat through a seriously lengthy teaching session only so he could ask Him for help with his inheritance problems, so it was with the RICH FOOL who used his wealth and resources on himself, to make himself even more wealthy. Yeah, I know there will be all kinds of arguments over this post, like, “God wants us to be good stewards”. To that I say, “Isn’t downsizing your home, selling one of your cars and reducing your eating out habits, while at the same time using the excess to aid those who are perishing around us being a good steward?” It’s not how much you make that’s the problem it’s what you do with it that reveals your heart.
Conclusion: God is not against wealth, but if we really understood what God requires from the RICH, most of us would run away from it. And yet none of us in North America can escape this huge responsibility because compared to the poor little boy you saw in the picture above you are incredibly wealthy. The next time someone tries to tell you that God wants you to be prosperous (in the earthly sense) run as fast and as far as you can away from them because they are like deadly poison that would try and feed into covetousness.
“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.”
Preparing The Way