Parables of Jesus for the Modern Pilgrim.
The human race is self-seeking. We naturally want to have the best and the most. We don’t have to teach our kids how to grab the best cookie off the plate. Quite the opposite. “Share, Johnny.”
Maturity comes when we learn self-restraint. As we get older, we try to curb our fundamental desire for more. It’s not always easy. We don’t always get there.
People are the same no matter where are when they live. Jesus encountered this often. Today’s parable addresses the underlying motivation for most cases of greed.
Let’s catch up with Jesus in Luke 12:13-34.
Jesus is asked to mediate a dispute, “Ask my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” The man is not asking for what is rightfully his. In the custom of the day, the way the inheritance was divided was set. (Deut. 21:15-17) The eldest son got 2/3 share, and the rest was for the remaining son.
The man was not asking for justice. He was asking for Jesus to give him more than his common share. The attitude is not, “make it fair,” but rather, “give me more.”
Jesus answers with a question, “Who made me judge…” The mission of Jesus is not to take the place of Moses or Solomon. Jesus is all about the heart and turning God’s people back to Him. He warns the man and all who listen about greed.
Here is the first parable of this chapter: The Rich Fool
In typical human fashion, the rich fool is not satisfied with his “abundant harvest.” He has more than he needs – enough to share. But his first thought is, I need to hoard this. I’d better tear down my barns and build bigger ones. He had set his sights on living on the surplus in extravagant living.
Little did he know that his time was up on this earth and he ended his life in the midst of a selfish project. In the end, his abundance profited him nothing.
The lesson here?
When you hoard resources, it shows your distrust of God. The one who trusts in the Lord is rich toward God with his abundance. When we see that it is God who gives the resources, our gratitude helps us hold those possessions lightly. It is always available to bless others as the Lord directs.
I doubt that was the outcome the man was looking for when he came to Jesus.
Jesus continues speaking to the disciples. He had to make clear the underlying cause.
Fear can often be the emotion behind greed. We fear we will not have enough. We fear it won’t last. We fear God won’t show up again. Was the man asking for more because he feared the future? Perhaps.
Another fear that turns to greed is the fear that we are not enough. We need to have more or be more, to be recognized by those around us.
How do we get rid of these fears? Jesus turned their focus to the Creator and how he cares for the earth.
Look at the birds of the air. God takes care of them well. And the flowers? Look how beautifully your Father dresses them. And then the phrase that is so powerful:
How much more…
You are worth so much more than birds or flowers. How much more will your heavenly Father care for you.
We must remember who our Father is. It is a characteristic of an orphan to strive to survive. But we are no longer orphans. We have a good, good Father. If God thinks we are worthy of His love and attention, what else do we need?
Change your focus. Look at things the way God does. It is God’s pleasure to give you the Kingdom. It is His nature to be generous. He gives all things that you need to live and grow. Primarily, his presence.
What God has in store for us is so much better than anything on earth – won’t rust, won’t wear out, can’t be stolen, can’t waste away.
Here is the test of our heart: Is your treasure earthly things or is set on Jesus?
Lessons for the Modern Pilgrim
- Greed is a red flag in the believer’s heart. Is there fear of lack, or a focus on material things over the things of God? Both point to an orphan identity. God is a good Father who provides all we need in abundance. “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?” Romans 8:32.
- Focus on “How much more…” We are infinitely more precious to God than anything else on this earth. Don’t be afraid. God will care for us well. He loves to give us what we need, at just the right time.
- Change our focus to giving instead of getting.
God’s economy is not like this world. Jesus said it like this,
“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:38.
The child of God has no fear because they live in the “how much more…”