Pentecost 13 2002
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).
“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.)