The less I spent on myself and the more I gave to others, the fuller of happiness and blessing did my soul become. -Hudson Taylor*
In Luke 12, Jesus encourages His followers to trust in Him. He reminds them that God will meet all their needs and that God provides everything, from food to wisdom. Jesus says not to worry about the body and instead follow the one who handles the body and the soul. In this context, someone in the crowd asked Jesus for a judgment, a legal ruling on a financial issue between brothers (Luke 12:13-53). Jesus warns against greed and uses parables to illustrate the folly of trusting in money. It is easy to trust in the gift and forget the giver.
1. Jesus warned about the pursuit of wealth (greed)
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Luke 12:13-14
Jesus was not about fleshly judgment or building kingdoms here on earth. He was looking at a heavenly kingdom and kingdom values. In this situation, the Pharisees or religious leaders would have made a ruling, if for no other reason than to demonstrate their authority.
Jesus did not want to present Himself as an earthly judge like the Pharisees – He did not come to condemn the world but to save (John 3:17). He was more concerned about the heart than the nuances of man’s law. He was more concerned about relationship and restoration than being right. Jesus is the only right one and we find our rightness in Him. We do not want what is simply right because we need grace.
Jesus used the opportunity to show the destructive nature of greed. Money has two faces, one constructs and one destructs. Here, the love of money caused division between two bothers. Money divides companies, friends, brothers, and churches. Our forefathers printed “In God We Trust” on money so we would be reminded of the power and deceit of money. Perhaps they should have also added, “Handle with care.”
2. Greed is blinding
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
Greed is deceptive and it blinds us. Jesus’ words, “Beware, and be on your guard” gives us the sense that greed is lurking and hiding like a roaring lion seeking to devour, and if we are not careful it will overtake us. Beware is an offensive term, a call to be alert and aware of potential hazards. Be on guard is the defensive mode – greed will come at us so we must be prepared.
Where is your treasure? Where you do spend your time and money? Your treasure is wherever your heart and true affections are (Matthew 6:19-21). The treasure is what you must have and will do almost anything to gain.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46
*Hudson Taylor – British-born Christian missionary to China and founder of China Inland Missions. He spent 51 years in China and was responsible for bringing in over 800 additional missionaries, building schools and for thousands responding to the Gospel.