Summary: Through a parable about a "rich fool" Jesus gave a sharp warning about the love of money. Greed leads to a false view of life. Greed leads to a fool’s death.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) That passage from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy is well known. It seems that many people who know little else about the Bible can quote that particular passage. Perhaps it is familiar and frequently quoted because so many people have experienced its truth either directly or indirectly. Who among us hasn’t seen arguing and fighting take place because of the love of money? We have all heard about lives, and marriages, and families destroyed because of the love of money. In the news every day we hear about people who commit heinous crimes because of greed.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” The inspired Apostle wasn’t the first one to point out the powerful pull that wealth can have on a person. From the record of Achan’s sin in Joshua to the warnings penned by Solomon in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes we hear the warnings that God gave to his people about the danger greed poses to a person’s soul. Other Old Testament prophets delivered similar warnings from God about coveting. A reading of the New Testament will reveal additional warnings about greed from the lips of Jesus and the writings of the Apostles.
But perhaps we think that coveting and greed is only a problem for rich folks. If we are of more modest means we won’t have any trouble with greed, right? Although being wealthy may present an extra challenge for a Christian every one of us is faced with the temptation to sinfully crave money and more material wealth.
In the gospel lesson for this Sunday we hear Jesus give one of his strongest warnings about greed. He tells us to watch out for what the love of money can do to us. It can warp what we perceive as valuable in life and twist our view of material things. Greed can turn us inward so that we begin to care only for our self. And worst of all, greed will lead us to a frightening situation at the end of our life. So all of us must take these words of Jesus to heart. We ask him to use his law to expose our sinfulness and his gospel to empower us to change our attitude and actions. May the Holy Spirit enable us to listen to our Savior when he says:
“BE ON YOUR GUARD AGAINST GREED!”
I. It leads to a false view of life
II. It leads to a fool’s death
Whenever we look at a section of God’s Word the background and the context of the verses are essential for properly understanding them. The first two verses of the gospel lesson for this Sunday describe the situation in which Jesus spoke his strongest warning about greed. “Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Jesus saw right through the man’s request. It was greed that prompted him to ask the Rabbi from Nazareth to intervene in the squabble he was having with his brother over money. After making it clear to the man that a dispute over an inheritance was not any of Jesus’ business he said to everyone, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” Beginning with that warning Jesus went on to explain the dangers that lie behind greed. Greed leads a person to a false view of life. Greed leads to a fool’s death.
Just before Jesus told the parable of the rich fool he stated one of the fundamental misconceptions that can cause a person to become greedy. He said, “a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” The point that Jesus started to make with that statement is that greed leads to a false view of life. The people in the crowd that day were part of a society that measured a person by what he owned. In the parable that Jesus was about to tell he would bring home the truth that a correct view of life has little to do with money.
Keeping up with the neighbors, having the latest one of these or those, and measuring a person by what he or she wears, drives, or owns is the common practice in our society. Why do Sandra Bullock, Tom Cruise, and Gwyneth Paltrow demand 15 or 20 million for their part in a movie? Money is how they keep score of who is the best. Does a baseball player, or football player, or basketball player really need 87 million for a ten year contract? Once again, money is just a means of keeping score and determining who is the best. It is considered the measure of success.