Faithlife Sermons

Rich & Foolish

The Gospel of Luke 2  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:51
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We live in a world of Hiltons and Kardashians, of professional athletes, of movie stars and pop-artists. Subtly, even unintentionally, all the attention on their lives of opulence and influence causes us to set our sights, set our hearts, on being rich and famous.
the rich and famous (noun): celebrities, well-known people with lots of money rich (adjective): wealthy, prosperous, affluent, having a lot of money famous (adjective): widely known, famed, renowned
If we become rich and famous, what do we gain? Well, perhaps we gain just that—we gain all that the world has to offer. But what then? What about where life ends and eternity begins? Or, even in this life, what about what money can’t buy and fame can’t fulfill?
Jesus warns us:
Luke 9:25 ESV
For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
(…or “forfeit his own soulMk. 8:36)
We come to a section of our study in Luke’s Gospel where Jesus is teaching those around him, with a special emphasis on preparing his disciples to follow him truly and carry on his mission after he is gone. With his face set toward Jerusalem (Lk 9:53), Jesus knows he will die an atoning death for sin on a cross but will be raised in power to defeat sin and even death, proving his power to forgive sin and grant new life, restoring people to God who put our faith in him alone to rescue us. Jesus knows his disciples will need the modeling and instruction he now gives them, and they will need the indwelling Holy Spirit, in order to carry on the mission of proclaiming to the world that although each one is desperately lost and dead in sin, he or she can be made right with God through Jesus.
And in the current context, Jesus knows the dangers, the obstacles that face them on this journey of true discipleship. Having warned them about the danger that religious hypocrisy is to them both outwardly and inwardly, an interruption from the crowd gives opportunity to warn them (those who desire to be his true followers) of the threat of setting our hearts on the things of this world.
Luke 12:13–21 ESV
Someone in 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 arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
As we look into the conversation that sets this lesson from Jesus in motion, I ask you: How can something that seems so big and important to us (properly dividing the inheritance) reveal how small and limited our view of greater things at stake? (Our tendency to become shortsighted and and be simple-minded...)
Jesus uses the opportunity from this interruption to begin explaining that there is an…

Inheritance of Greater Concern (vv. 13-15)

Asking a wise teacher to act as arbitrator was not unusual. As for the issue itself, the eldest son always received a double portion of the inheritance, but all other sons were supposed to get their fair share as well.
We do not know whether this young man was simply asking for what was legally and rightfully his share of the inheritance, or something more. With what ensues, though, we are left to wonder he was motivated by greed.
Either way, Jesus refuses to act as moderator in this dispute. Not because he couldn’t be a just judge, but because…
Jesus didn’t come to mediate trivial earthly disputes.
Those present are right to recognize the wisdom and authority of Jesus, but treating him the way they would treat other rabbis misses the primary objective for Jesus’ presence on earth.
1 Timothy 2:5–6 ESV
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Almost everyone admits that there is plentiful evidence that Jesus was a real historical figure. The tragedy then would be to miss the true identity and true purpose for Jesus’ existence and ministry on earth. ***
Instead of allowing this man and others present to remain focused on things that will not last, Jesus shifts attention away from these issues that are earthbound to the importance of having an eternal inheritance (which can only come by being rich toward God). In the process (since as we know he is training those who are his disciples and those who would claim that they want to follow him as well), he reveals yet another danger, another obstacle to true discipleship. It is the grave danger of greed, of too much concern with possessions.
Materialism is an obstacle to true discipleship.
The text says, Be on guard against greed! - To be on guard means to prepare yourself that there is an enemy, a danger, and that you must be equipped against that danger.
When coaching, I tell players (when we are not in possession of the ball) that the defender’s mindset is to be alert to what your opponent will do next. *** - In the Christian life, we are told:
2 Corinthians 10:4–5 ESV
For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
What is the specific danger in our text today to be on guard against? The literal term in the Greek text is greediness (excessive and immoderate desire for more and more stuff) … Covetousness is another translation you may have (an improper desire for what someone else has that you do not; closely associated with envy)… Materialism is the modern term that I prefer, which catches some of these dangers together (worldview that focuses on the things of this life to the detriment of recognizing that which is of greater worth, more lasting) - The Bible also calls this wheelhouse (materialism, covetousness & envy, greed) the love of money.
Listen to the pastoral wisdom from Paul to Timothy to guard his own heart and to teach others:
1 Timothy 6:6–11 ESV
But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
The application for believers, disciples, followers of Jesus would be… Don’t live like an atheist. Take care, pay attention, know that the world we are often listening to is promoting lies from a false worldview.
Let’s continue to see more of the “why” this is such an obstacle to being a true follower of Jesus, to having a sincere heart for God.

Parable of the Rich Fool (vv. 16-21)

Picture the steps in the parable.
The rich man’s problem: Greater produce than my storehouses can handle. - Options? (Be content; give to those in need. Nope.)
His solution: Build bigger to store more.
His reason: Then I’ll be able to have more than plenty — And I’ll tell my soul, “Relax, eat, drink, and be merry.”
But then comes the twist in the tale. Suddenly he has a far greater problem: God says, “Fool! Tonight you die. And what does all this stuff profit you in eternity?”
The point of the parable:
Foolish is the one who sets his heart on laying up treasure on earth.
… “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19).
Notice the parallel to this discussion only verses later in Luke 12
Luke 12:34 ESV
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The heart of the issue is the heart… what we allow to be our chief desires, what we allow our minds to meditate on and become our goals.
Stuff is just stuff and money is just money and position if just position and recognition just recognition. However, these things tend to have an insidious and pervasive impact on the motivations of our heart. It’s loving money that is a problem, it’s being motivated simply by gaining more for ourselves that is a problem, or craving recognition and position as ends in themselves.
Why is it so foolish to let materialism rule our hearts? Bc it is so short-sighted, limited in it’s value. ***
It was this very thing that seems to have captured Judas. John tells us that Judas, even when he gave an outward show of righteousness for being aghast when Mary anointed Jesus with expensive perfume to honor him, he was actually motivated by greed rather than a concern for the poor (Jn 12:6). As a dishonest thief who was motivated by greed, he would take for himself what was put into the moneybags for the ministry of Jesus and the Twelve.
Judas is an example among the Twelve of this danger. Materialism can rule your heart and make you miss salvation by grace through faith in Jesus.
What Jesus is warning against is the foolishness of materialism, of essentially placing faith in our possessions, status (anything earthly which might capture our hearts)… setting the goal of our desire on those things, and not on knowing and pleasing God.
How dangerous ultimately is it to be one who “is not rich toward God”? - The warning here is clearly one of eternal separation from God.
What is the imperative clearly taught by the previous negative statement of warning?
Instead, be rich toward God.
What does it mean (being rich toward God) and how does one invest accordingly?
Pursue the knowledge of God and the things of God.
King David went from humble shepherd boy to a man of great renown and wealth, and yet he was called a man after God’s own heart. That’s because he pursued God with his heart, and he aimed to pursue the kind of character and activity he saw in God. Wisdom… forgiveness… generosity, and so on.
David is also an example of how horribly wrong things can go when we let our wayward hearts have their way in pursuing what we ought not to pursue.
David had to seek forgiveness from God, even while bearing the lasting earthly consequences of his sin, and move forward in the forgiveness of God and set his heart back to pursuing God alone as his greatest good.
There is a realm of investment which transcends and lasts.
Being rich toward God is a contrast to all that has gone before in Jesus’ illustration.
It means trusting in God. Being rich toward God means loving God. Being rich toward God means aiming to be and to do that which we know of God.
Be on your guard against materialism.
One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his or her possessions.
Instead, focus your heart and mind on being rich toward God.
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