Luke 12:1-34 (Jesus speaking except in verse 13)
1In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. 3Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. 4And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. 6Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? 7But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: yea are of more value than many sparrows. 8Also I say unto you Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God: 9But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. 10And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven. 11And when they bring you unto the synagogues and unto magistrates and powers take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. 13And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me. 14And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 15And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. 16And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18And he said, This will I do; I will pull down my barns, and build greater and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. 22And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. 23The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. 24Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much are ye better than the fowls? 25And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? 26If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least why take ye thought for the rest? 27Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28If then God so clothe the grass which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 34For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Luke in this passage goes back to an earlier period where the Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus in order to accuse Him. The crowds around Jesus grew into a large number, but Jesus did not take this as an opportunity to gain the favor of the crowd. Instead, he took time in the presence of the crowd to warn His own disciples to beware of superficial, play-acting religion of the Pharisees.
The disciples must not be afraid of them. Death itself is to be preferred to compromise and Hell.
Jesus promised them that when the time came that they were brought to trial for His sake that the Holy Spirit would teach them, at the right time, exactly what to say. His gifts would be sufficient for the work and the worker.
At least one man in the crowd was not listening to Jesus. At a very serious point in Jesus’ teaching he stepped out and rudely interrupted Him with a demand that he settle a family quarrel. He asked that Jesus take his side and tell his brother to divide an inheritance with him.
This man had a wrong conception of Christ’s ministry and mission. Jesus Christ did lay down principles of justice, mercy and love, but He refused to force men to apply these principles. He knew it would take an inner change of the heart to get men to do what is right. He also knew that it is all too easy to fall into that greedy, grasping spirit that seeks material things and material advantage, whatever the cost.
The Bible has many warnings against covetousness and greed. By giving too much attention to things which may be seen, handled and owned, we may easily lose sight of the unseen and eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Covetousness and greed breed criticism, envy and discontent. It destroys our sense of values, hardens the heart, dries up the springs of human affection and compassion and damns the soul.
For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
To drive home the danger of a self-centered, covetous spirit, Jesus told a parable about a wealthy farmer. Nothing in the story indicates he was immoral or dishonest. He prospered because of hard work, rain and sunshine that God had blessed him with, causing his land to produce abundant crops.
Notice the prominence of the personal pronouns I and my which occur no less than eleven times in this brief parable. This lack of concern for others made him inconsiderate and foolish. The height of his folly, however, was his lack of concern for his own soul. He made his plans as if God’s will and work did not matter and as if this were the only world to prepare for. Then suddenly, while he was planning for years to come, he found there were no more years or even days for him. Everything he had worked for now slipped from his grasp.
Jesus applied this parable to all. Any man is foolish if he lets greed and self-interest keep him from being rich toward God. Jesus called for self-denial and following Him in the way of the cross.
Luke 9:23 (Jesus speaking)
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
His wisdom calls for us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, refusing to be conformed to the world in its selfishness and greed.
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Turning to His disciples, Jesus told them not to be over-anxious about food, clothes and material gain. How easy it is for Christians, living as we do in an extremely materialistic age, to begin to think that life consists in the abundance of material possessions. Some even go so far as to equate material wealth with spirituality, supposing that gain in godliness.
1 Timothy 6:3-7
3If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
Are we preoccupied with money and things or is our focus on being rich toward God? Probably the most foreboding question Jesus ever asked is recorded in
Mark 8:36 (Jesus speaking)
For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
The finest clothes are no comfort to a corpse. For where your treasure is there will be your heart also.
No x-ray is powerful enough to penetrate a person’s spiritual heart and learn its motives, nor is any scalpel sharp enough to dissect the spiritual heart and let us examine its workings. We really don’t need these “tools” because all we have to do is see where or what one’s treasure is. That tells immediately what one’s values are and where one places his trust.
No other nation in all the history of the world has enjoyed the physical blessings that the United States of America has known. God, by giving us a wonderful combination of natural resources, climate and freedom, has allowed us to create unparalleled wealth, but our true wealth is not measured in terms of these physical things. It is measured by how we use these things. If one has no doubts about where America’s heart really is, let him examine how we spend our money. We spend more for pet food than we do for foreign missions.
A minister once took his son with him to visit a rich landowner. The man took them to a vantage point on his ranch where they could look in all directions. Pointing west he said, “It’s all mine as far as you can see.” Turning to the south he made the same statement and then repeated it as he looked to the east and to the north.
Turning to the boy he asked, “What do you think of that?” “Well, Sir,” replied the boy, “there’s one direction you didn’t look. I guess you don’t own any land there.” “What do you mean there’s one direction we didn’t look? We looked to every point of the compass.” “But Sir, you didn’t look up.”
No man can tell whether he is rich or poor by turning to his ledger. It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is not rich according to what he has because it all belongs to God. It is only loaned to us for a while, to invest in for God’s glory.
There is nothing wrong about being wealthy if wealth has been acquired by honest toil with God-given ability, and upon the basis of Christian principles that is not ill-gotten gain. Such material can be used for the glory of God and the extension of His Kingdom.
The sin of wealth lies in loving money for its own sake. David was a wealthy man as were Abraham, Isaac and Job. The great principle by which we are to govern our lives is reduced to one basis: The Kingdom of God.
Matthew 6:33 (Jesus speaking)
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Give your heart to God and find wealth that all the banks in America cannot hold!
Luke 12:27-31 (Jesus speaking)
27Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? 29And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 30For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 31But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Jesus directed the attention of His disciples to the small wild lilies growing in abundance on the hills. Their natural beauty surpassed the glory of King Solomon in all his royal attire.
Seeing that God so clothes the field with beautiful flowers and grass, which one day is growing and the next day is plucked up, dried and used for kindling in an oven to bake bread, will He not clothe His people?
Luke 12:24 (Jesus speaking)
Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?
They were not redeemed by the blood of His Son, nor called with a holy calling. The ravens, with neither “storehouse nor barns,” were happily unconscious of their poverty.
The rich man who would pull down his barns and build greater was equally unconscious of his spiritual bankruptcy.
The ravens’ ignorance is its bliss. The rich man’s ignorance was his curse.
Luke 12:30 (Jesus speaking)
Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Oh, the sweetness of these words to the care-burdened heart! “Your Father knoweth,” words coming as they did from the lips of Him who is the eternal Son…they are all the more precious, His words. He does know the deep, real love and faithfulness of the Father’s heart toward those who are His blood-bought children.
Then…why harass our hearts with anxious thoughts?
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.