Prior to this passage (Luke 12:1-12), Jesus was having an intense discussion with the crowds on the fear of man and the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, some random guy in the crowd recognized the supernatural authority that Jesus carried and wanted to “pull” from that authority so that he could get richer here on earth.
Then one from 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 an arbitrator over you?”
Personally, I think Jesus was a little irritated with the guy because He interrupted His discourse. According to the Torah, the oldest brother received the inheritance in a family. By deductive reasoning, Jesus probably knew that this person wasn’t the oldest and was desperate for what was rightfully His brother’s.
But because He saw a need for this person, and by extension the “crowd,” to get some perspective on worldly riches and how they relate (or don’t relate) to the Kingdom of God, He changed topics and told them this parable.
And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
Growing up, I was always told that coveting something basically means wanting something that another person has. And, although that’s part of the definition, it’s not the WHOLE definition. From the above passage, we see Jesus taking it even farther and equating covetousness to finding your life, your security and satisfaction in possessions… or, in my redneck vocabulary, “STUFF.”
Hoarding Instead of Helping
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?'”
Here, we have an introduction to a rich man with the traditional mindset toward worldly goods and prosperity. God has obviously blessed him with a good crop, but all the man can think of is how to save (hoard) his goods. The thought never occurs to him to give thanks to God, who has blessed him so richly, neither does he think about the poor and hungry who probably surround him, and who have an immediate need for the surplus, just so they can survive.
To Preserve and Protect
So he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.”
So his first thought is to think of ways to preserve and protect his surplus. It’s the same for us. Whether we are rich or poor, we have the same thought process: “What can I do with this surplus/money to benefit ME?” It could be spending it on a new stereo, taking our spouse out to eat, or investing it in the latest stock… anything in this life where you find your value. We don’t think about helping the homeless, feeding the hungry or our neighbor who is going to lose his house because he is out of work… things that God finds value in.
Take Your Ease!
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, [and] be merry.”
In the generations past, men have worked hard, scrimped and saved so that they can spend their final 20-30 years without having to work. To our carnal way of thinking, this is really what it is all about! Our whole lives are consumed with saving enough for the future, and living in pleasure right now. We think that, if we have enough money, enough pleasure… enough “STUFF,” then we can rest and be secure.
Take a look at the paper… do you think this mindset is accurate? Can we rely on this way of living to carry us through to the End?
God’s Judgement on a Covetous People
But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Those who lay up treasure for themselves here on earth without being “rich toward God” will find themselves under God’s judgment. Their lives are required of them… unexpectedly. America is currently at the cusp of experiencing this judgment from God.
It’s not that we haven’t given to the poor and needy; some studies would show that America gives more than any other nation in the world! But it’s because we have relied on and put our trust in the things of this world… money, entertainment, pleasure… STUFF. Our “identity” is our riches!
Since we are so close to His return, I think it would be beneficial for us to analyze our pursuits. Is our goal to save for the future? Or will we be found doing the work of the Kingdom?