Faithlife Sermons

Pentecost 13 2002

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Luke 12:13–21 (NIV84): 13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
The Holy Bible: New International Version (Lk 12:13–21). (1984). Zondervan.
How much stuff do we really need?
Have you ever noticed how many storage units there are in the area. Units have been recently built on CTH C between Rozelleville and Halder Bridge. The Shopko store in Marshfield is now occupied by storage units. A number have been recently built on HYW 97 north of Marshfield. Why are there so many? Well, it is because people need a clean, dry safe place to store their stuff that won’t fit in their existing house, garage, barn etc. It is not uncommon for people to have to park their cars and trucks outside because their garages are too full of other stuff. Our closets are full, our attics, our garages and our pantries. We collect more and more and can’t seem to have a handle on it. It seems that what Jesus proclaimed in our text has fallen on deaf ears, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Without a doubt, we live in an affluent society and possess perhaps more than any generation before in our respective families. It may not be an intentional accumulation. We have those items we collect and so we acquire one here and another one there without disposing of what we already have and before we know it we have become either collectors or hoarders. Why do we do this?
Product of the Great Depression.
Nostalgic attachment to things.
Over reaction to not having much as a child.
Depending on material possessions.
Specific sin: Greedy.
You see, Jesus, isn’t outright condemning how much we have but the attitude of greed that may often accompanying it. What is greed? Wanting more and more for ourselves and holding on to things so tightly for ourselves that we neglect the needs of those around us. This is what the farmer in the parable is condemned for. Not for saving up for the future but only saving up for himself and neglecting those around him.
By comparison: Before the great famine in Egypt at the time of Joseph, the plan to store up grain during the seven years of bumper crops was deemed wise and saved a generation from starvation.
Investing so that you have a means of support when you are no longer employed in retirement shows wisdom and foresight.
It is not so much that we accumulate but why that Jesus addresses here.
Luke gives us the occasion as to when Jesus taught this parable.
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Was it common for people to call on teachers to help settle disputes?
Luke Jesus Tells the Parable of the Rich Fool / 12:13–21 / 140

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” The focus returned to the crowd (12:1). Then a person in the crowd appealed to Jesus as an authority. He wanted Jesus to settle a dispute over his family inheritance. The Old Testament laws covered most cases (see, for example, Numbers 26–27; 33:54; 36; Deuteronomy 21:17). But sometimes an issue would arise that needed intervention in order to make a decision. Problems like this were often brought to rabbis for them to settle (see 10:38–42).

Jesus would have none of it. He does use this to teach on a very important topic that is covered elsewhere in the Bible. The topic of greed.
Luke 12:15 (NIV) 15  Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."
Ecclesiastes 5:10–12 NIV
10 Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless. 11 As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owners except to feast their eyes on them? 12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.
Proverbs 21:25–26 NIV
25 The craving of a sluggard will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work. 26 All day long he craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.
Isaiah 5:8 NIV
8 Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.
Hebrews 13:5 NIV
5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Jesus parable has become well known.
This farmer’s accumulation of his possessions had reached a “tipping point”. He suddenly had more than he could handle.
When do we realize that we have too much?
Well, if you haven’t moved in a long time, it may have crept up on you but then you decide to move to a smaller home.
How to move all that stuff?
What to get rid of and how?
Rent storage units?
Recover as much as you can for what you paid for it?
Run out of storage space.
An “outsider” sees you stash and comments on its size.
This man had several choices:
Sell off (but why not wait until the market improves?)
Donate to the poor in his area.
Save it all for himself.
He chose the latter which seems like a good investment strategy. But while he was sitting on bins full of grain, perhaps his neighbor was going broke paying for food (because his storage had a negative impact on supply and demand) or worse, was going hungry. In a world economy shouldn’t it concern us that certain goods are stockpiled and others are stressed because of false shortages?
Jesus warns of the calamity that can result for those who store up treasures for themselves. In this case the man will die suddenly. In other cases that which was stored up was lost or destroyed.
Matthew 6:19–24 NIV84
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
How vulnerable are the things we store up just for ourselves?
We live in a fairly safe area from burglars and thieves but just two weeks ago two drug addicts in a stolen car drove right up to my son’s front yard in a safe neighborhood and stole his trailer.
Your electronic identity is under constant threat.
Possessions are vulnerable to fire, tornadoes, and perhaps flooding.
Investments are at high risk.
Rot, mildew, and moths can still play havoc.
More importantly, how vulnerable are we to what happened to the rich farmer? “This very night your life will be demanded from you.”
Who knows when death may overtake me!
Time passes on, my end draws near.
How swiftly can my breath forsake me!
How soon can life's last hour appear!
My God, for Jesus' sake I pray
Thy peace may bless my dying day.
I Walk in Danger All the Way
Verse 3
Death doth pursue me all the way,
Nowhere I rest securely;
He comes by night, he comes by day,
And takes his prey most surely.
A failing breath, and I
In death's strong grasp may lie
To face eternity for aye.
Death dost pursue me all the way.
“Who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”
Here it is a rhetorical question.
Ecclesiastes 2:18–21 NIV
18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.
The point isn’t really who the beneficiaries will be and what they will do with our possessions. The point is that we ourselves will not be the ones to enjoy them in the future.
Jesus teaches that this would not be an isolated event. “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” WARNING
PROMISE. Instead of storing up selfishly and greedily for ourselves, Jesus teaches us to use what we have accumulated to be rich toward God.
What does it mean to be “rich toward God”?
Luke Jesus Tells the Parable of the Rich Fool / 12:13–21 / 140

“So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” The moral of the story: fools spend all their time storing up treasures for themselves but neglect to become rich toward God. The turning point is for whom the treasures are being accumulated. If for oneself, then the evils of wealth will be turned loose. Hoarding money without compassionate giving, regarding property as one’s own not God’s, or basing security on possessions rather than God’s provisions are all examples of spiritual poverty (not being rich toward God). Being rich toward God means using wealth as he provides it to fulfill his priorities. (See also 12:33–34 where giving to the poor is the key to understanding God’s kind of treasure.) People who are “rich” in this way love God and are filled with a passion to obey and serve him and to give to others. In this way, the “treasures” a person may gain in this life can be gladly handed back over to God for his use in furthering his kingdom. In Matthew 6:19–21, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (NIV). (See also 1 Timothy 6:17–19 for more on generosity.)

Conclusion: This morning you may have considered just how much stuff you have. I know that while I was writing this sermon, I thought about how certain areas of the parsonage and garage are stuffed with those material possessions I have stored up for myself. I considered ways I could be more intentional in disbursing them to others and why I have them.
It would be good for all us not just to take inventory of what we have but more importantly consider why we have them and if we find ourselves being selfish or greedy, to take action to be rich toward God with the possessions he has given to us.
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