Published December 22, 2005
Luke 12:16-21, 27-28, 31-34, 42-44, 48b
Related Sunday School Lesson, Family Bible Series, Jan. 8
So significant is the need for a Christian understanding of money that the late Larry Burkett made a ministry of teaching about it. Burkett helped Christians recognize that accumulation of possessions and wealth is glorified in this society. He emphasized the proper management of God-provided resources. Still, status is desired because it indicates that one has arrived at significance. Many people, even Christians, fall into the trap of believing that monetary gain is equivalent to significance in life.
The parable of the Rich Fool teaches the vanity of trusting in temporal wealth. People have been given much in life. We do not know when we will be called home or when the Lord may return. A focus on kingdom advancement rather than material accumulation is the desire of the heart of God for His children.
Life Question: How can I make sure the money I own doesn’t own me?
Realize Material Wealth Doesn’t Last (Luke 12:16-21)
Being afraid of financial ruin should not be a driving force for the Christian, particularly when we understand that money has no value beyond this life. In verses 13-14 Jesus was interrupted by a man desiring that He decide an inheritance dispute between himself and his brother. Jesus recognized the greed of the request and warned the man to beware of covetousness because true significance is found not in this life, but in eternity (15).
What a powerful draw “Easy Street” is! It is a place where life is worry free. The farmer of this parable thought he had hit the “mother load” with his bumper crop. He trusted in his plan for permanent storage. The farmer exemplifies one focused on the temporal which is opposite of a proper Christian focus. Christians are to focus on God’s Kingdom above all else.
The struggle between the temporal value of money and the eternal value of God’s kingdom is real. But believers are to be “rich” toward God and possess a realistic perspective about the value of material wealth. The farmer, considering himself to be wise, was called a fool because he trusted in material possessions and wealth. He failed to recognize the vanity of temporal dependence (20). In the end the saying, “You can’t take it with you when you die” proves to be true.
Trust God to Meet Your Needs (Luke 12:27-28)
Believers need to recognize that worry never accomplishes anything positive. In fact, being anxious never helps but actually can make matters worse. Worrying about the necessities of life is something the Lord does not desire for believers (22-26). Life for God’s children is much more than food and clothing. God’s children are His joy so naturally He desires to provide for them. Certainly He will provide all that we need and more. Worrying over these basics demonstrates a disheartening lack of faith.
In verses 27-28 Jesus teaches that the beautifully designed lilies exist for God’s good pleasure and purposes. He takes care of them. They never pick up a needle or thread to make their beautiful clothing. This was all provided by our caring God. Even the fabulously rich Solomon could not compare in splendor!
Christians have so much more value and purpose than lilies, both in the temporal life and eternity. Certainly the Lord will meet all of our needs. Believers simply need to trust in God’s desire to provide what He feels we need and even when we need it. Believers desire to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” in eternity, not “O you a little faith” in the temporal.
Pursue God’s Kingdom Above All Else (Luke 12:31-34)
People diligently pursue so many things. Jesus warned that Christians, however, need to pursue one all-consuming goal, God’s kingdom. In verses 29-30 Jesus instructed his disciples to not exert effort and worry on things God promises to provide. Again, faithful Christians are not to be overly anxious about their needs.
Seeking God’s kingdom involves doing the work He gives us to do. Therefore believers should concentrate on being God’s vessels to build up His kingdom on the earth. The Lord desires that believers put aside all inhibitions and be determined that worry will not deter their ministries.
All basics and necessities will be readily available as the work of the Lord is carried out by faithful servants. Believer’s lifestyles should reflect a passionate conviction that God’s kingdom is significantly more valuable than anything the world may offer.
God enjoys blessing His children (32). If a believer’s heart is focused on heaven and eternity, then he or she will be willing to literally give his or herself away in service. What one does with money reveals the priorities of his or her heart (34).
Be a Good Steward of All You Have (Luke 12:42-44, 48b)
The emphasis of verses 35-41 is that God desires our readiness and service, not our anxiousness about material goods. Faithful stewardship involves being on call and at the ready. Our efforts in kingdom ministry are eternally significant.
Believers should strive in ministry as though time is running out and few opportunities remain. When the Lord returns, will He find His servants working as though His return was imminent? It is a thought-provoking question.
Jesus rewarded the faithful steward and called him blessed (verse 42-43). The faithful steward metaphor pictures the genuine believer who manages well the spiritual riches God has put in his care for the benefit of others.
Honor and blessing are the rewards of faithful stewardship (44). Believers who faithfully serve the Lord desire that kind of affirmation. Rather than being a worrier over our concerns, we should be a blessing to others.
Believers are accountable to the Lord to use their resources to honor the Lord and further His kingdom’s work. The over-worried Christian cannot be completely focused on ministry. God has provided all He wants us to have to serve Him (48b). People will be held accountable for their oversight of what was entrusted to them. It is reasonable for God to expect faithfulness in service.
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