The Parable of the Rich Man {Luke 12}

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By Lisa Moore

Luke Chapter 12 begins with thousands of people gathered together to hear the teachings of Jesus and to witness His miracles.  There are so many people, that they are literally stepping over each other to reach Him.  In the chaos Jesus warns the disciples of the "leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." (v. 1)   He tells them to ignore the opinions of others and to worry not.  For our God who remembers even the tiny sparrow will never forget those whom He calls his own.  He next instructs them to be without stress when called to defend their faith, for through the Holy Spirit the perfect words would be provided.  It is in the midst of this teaching when a man yells out to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me."  Think of that.  Standing face to face with the Lord and making such a shallow request.  But before we scoff at the wasted opportunity this man had being concerned with the pettiness of wealth, if we were to look inside ourselves can we say that we are so different?  For Jesus warns, ""For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be." (v. 34)


Now in those days family descent, inheritance rights, and land possession were very important both religiously, and economically.  And by bringing this matter to Jesus this man recognized the authority of Jesus.  But he missed the big picture.  He didn't understand that Jesus didn't come to settle petty disputes, nor did He come to call people to cling to their worldly possessions.  Instead He came to call people to cling to God and to trust Him as our provider.  So in responding Jesus admonishes this man saying, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" (v. 14)  Jesus takes this opportunity to warn against the destructive sin of covetousness.  True joy can never be found in things.  True joy comes from having a close, personal relationship with God.  Anything else is a hollow substitution.  To illustrate this point, Jesus tells a parable to teach us how foolish it is to think that life is about money and possessions.



There once was a rich man who had a very productive year.  His crops were so plentiful that he didn't have barns big enough to store the surplus.  Instead of taking his abundance and sharing it with those in need thus honoring God, he decides it would much better for him to build larger barns and store his crop so he could live a life of ease, "eating, drinking, and being merry." (v. 19)  Jesus calls this man a fool in verse 20 saying, "This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?"  Instead of worrying about worshipping God and being thankful for the blessing, this man is worried about his material things which amount to nothing but dust.  Where is your focus?  Is it on pursuing God or storing your crops?  Do you use what God has blessed you with to glorify Him, or is your time and energy spent building bigger barns?  Jesus tells us that instead of storing up treasures for ourselves, we should instead store up treasures in heaven becoming rich toward God.  But how do we do that? 


 First, be anxious for nothing.  Jesus tells us, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing." (vs. 21-22)  Needless worry fixes nothing, robs us of our peace, and keeps us from trusting God completely.  By seeking God's kingdom above all else, we can rest in the knowledge that our Father knows exactly what we need and, "has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom."  (v. 32)  Finally Jesus tells us that we can be become rich toward God by giving away our things.  He tells us to sell our possessions and give to the needy.  By doing so we "make ourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes nearer nor no moth destroys."  (v. 33)  All we have is from God, and to Him only goes the glory.  We are to be generous with all He had blessed us with.


Jesus ends by imparting wisdom about our hearts and our treasure.  He tells us that wherever our hearts are, there too will be our focus.  If we seek the things of this world, the fleshly desires, our heart is going to follow.  Investing in the things of this world comes with an empty and risky rate of return.  But investing in God brings riches far beyond measure and an eternity of treasure.



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