Summary: We are called to lay up treasures in heaven, but we also have bills to pay. These verses give us some insights into how we can be wise Christians stewards of our money.
Luke 12:13-21 “Care and Feeding of the Money Tree”
Video presentation: “Contentment—Deep Thoughts by a Shallow Christian”
We laugh at the absurdity of the shallow Christian’s remarks, yet, how often our lives mirror his thoughts. We often find ourselves complaining about what we don’t have rather than giving thanks for what we do have. In a society where the “rich fool’s” decisions and actions would be considered wise financial planning, we have a problem thinking more stuff equals abundance.
Our challenge as Christians is not to give up and enter a monastery so that we never have to enter a financial fray again. Our challenge is to live in this deeply materialist society as followers of Jesus Christ, and to be witnesses for Christ not by how much we have but by how we use what we have received.
The main character in this parable is not a fool because of his wealth. God blessed the land and the land produced abundantly. God isn’t anti-wealth. The man was a fool because of how he handled his wealth.
We do not know if this man was a religious person or not. We do know that he had not accepted the teachings on wealth of the Jewish faith. He viewed the things of his life as his possessions. He had worked hard for them and he had been wise and skillful in his use of his wealth. He was not faithful, however.
The man did not see the stuff of his life as a gift from God. If he had, he may have asked the question, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” Instead he acted from a desire to be more comfortable and secure.
If we are to avoid repeating the mistakes of the rich fool, we first start by living in the reality that everything we have is a gift from God. God’s gifts are expressions of his love and care for us, and like any good parent he sometimes doesn’t give us everything we want so that we do not become self-centered and selfish. We can tell whether or not we are viewing life from this perspective by our thanksgiving quotient. Is our thanksgiving greater than our complaining?
The rich fool is model of the “self-made man.” If one were to ask him how he got to where he was, he would have told them that he did it himself through his hard work, without a moment’s hesitation. The self-made man is an American icon; an image that our society honors and respects—perhaps even worships. Because of his perspective the man never considered the needs of others, but only his own wants and desires.
In reality, the man was a part of a community. He did not become who he was in a vacuum. He was helped by others. Being a part of a community means that his second question in handling his wealth is not what would make him the most comfortable and secure. A better second question is, “How can I give back to my community.”
We are responsible for the community, state, nation, and world in which will live. If things are going to change it is because we provide the impetus for that change. If the world is going to be transformed, it will be as the Holy Spirit moves through us to transform the lives around us (after first transforming us). As followers of Christ and people of a community the proper question is not, “What’s in it for us?” A better question is, “How can we help others?”
Desert Streams seeks to ask this question. When we do, we begin to talk about a MOPS program, or taking up a collection of school supplies for the children of Pan de Vida, or helping with a Habitat for Humanity build.
Jesus looked with pity upon the rich fool. The man’s perspective and priorities caused him to lose out on the important things of life. His focus on the physical aspects of life prevented him from attending to the spiritual side of things. His high style of living was as transitory as a Popsicle in a Phoenix summer day.
A change in the man’s perspective and priorities would have not have benefited God. God’s will is not determined by our level of giving.
A change in the man’s perspective and priorities would have benefited the man. He would have been able to experience the abundant life that is offered him through the cross of Jesus Christ. He would have had the joy of helping others and the experience of giving until it feels good. His life could have reflected the image of God and be a witness to all around him of God’s love and grace.
The parable invites us to ask ourselves a powerful question, “Where is the focus of our heart, and where are we laying up treasures.