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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#1070. Be rich toward God through generosity (4/6/24)

This week in our Luke series, we are focussing on Luke 12:13-34, where the theme is our relationship to wealth. Today, we see that we need to learn to be ‘rich toward God’ in our stewardship of wealth. 

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “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?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”’ (Luke 12:16-21)

Lesson: Through generosity, we are rich toward God because serving people is serving God


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I’m sure that we’ve all heard the stories of people winning the lottery only to have relationship breakdowns and to lose it all! 

Success brings its own challenges. Many people like to criticise celebrities, the wealthy and those with power whilst never having had their unique challenges. Mike Tyson once said, 

“Whoever thinks a lot of money will make them happy never had a lot of money” —Mike Tyson

John D. Rockefeller is the richest person who has ever lived. If Rockefeller were alive today, he’d be worth £275 Billion!when adjusted for inflation! When asked,  “How much money does it take to make a man happy? His response was, “Just one more dollar.” I guess that’s the sort of attitude that you need to become that wealthy! 


I think that most of us assume that we would be wise and virtuous enough to handle ‘success’. But I’ve no doubt that the opportunities and temptations that come with wealth would be very challenging, and most of us would not handle it very well!  


In today’s parable of the rich fool, we are told that ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest’. The abundance reveals his character. His new-found abundance doesn’t lead to an abundance of generosity, but an abundance of selfishness. Because we are all vulnerable to becoming like this man, Jesus, in the words prior to this parable, says to all of us:

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

Let’s learn a few lessons on how to ‘Be on your guard against all kinds of greed’ from this parable:


i. Learn from his lack of prayer

This man in our parable made a fundamental mistake in his response to wealth when we read, ‘He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do?’ He prayed to himself! He thought ‘my kingdom come, my will be done on earth’! Praying about and offering our income to God is vital if we are to be rich toward God and avoid this man’s downfall. 


ii. Learn from his approach to storage

As He gained wealth, his response was, “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.” His response to wealth was to horde it. He treated his wealth like it was his alone, without realising that his wealth belonged to God and he was a steward. A steward uses wealth on behalf of another, and this is the position that we should all, ideally, take. Jesus is not opposed to the accumulation of wealth; wealth is a very powerful tool when used for good! However, like a reservoir that has no outlet, so we can become a store of precious water that does no good! We all need to prayerfully heed this parable because we are all in danger of becoming ‘selfish storers’ rather than 'rich toward God’. 


iii. Learn from his ambitions

The man reveals the reason for storing His wealth: ‘“And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’  This man wanted to put this money to work in serving his pleasures, without any thought as to God’s will. David Garland and Arnold clinton write of His selfishness: 

‘The rich man in this parable gives no acknowledgment of God for his bounty. His soliloquy contradicts Ps 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it” (see Ps 50:12), by containing five my’s: “my crops,” “my granaries,” “my wheat,” “my good things,” and “my soul.” For him, it is all about “me,” not God or anyone else. His soliloquy also contains six “I’s.” He is totally self-absorbed.’ (Garland, David E.; Clinton E. Arnold. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary)

iv. Learn from his short-term thinking

This greedy man was short-sighted. He lived like his short life was all the life that he would have. He wanted to invest all his wealth into his short, earthly life. He didn’t consider eternity! God responds to his plans with: ‘“You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”’ To use wealth correctly, one must live with eternity in view. We must realise that we ‘store treasure in heaven’ by how we use earthly wealth. 


v. He was not rich toward God

Finally, Jesus summarises this man’s approach to wealth with these words: ‘“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”’ His lack of prayer, poor storage, poor ambitions and short-term thinking are summarised as being ‘[poor] toward God’. He was not ready and willing to give himself and His resources in God’s service. 


Response

Are we using the opportunities and gifts that we have, like this man, to gain wealth and serve our selfish desires? Working hard is a godly attribute. Jesus, however, is opposed wealth creation that is not put under His Lordship. 

However, unlike this man, are we prayerful about how we use our income - whether large or small?

Are we storing our wealth for God’s use?

Are we using it, yes for our provision and enjoyment, but also for God’s purposes?

Are we rich toward God - truly seeking to use our money for God’s will, which is often about Him working through us to be generous to others? Let’s remember Jesus’ words of challenge, that as we, prayerfully, seek to serve people with our wealth, we are serving Him: 

‘“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”’ (Luke 25:40)

Through generosity, we are rich toward God because serving people is serving God.

 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


There are no groups this week due to our week of prayer. Please look at Church News or contact the church office for details.

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