Summary: Learning from Jesus how to be successful in His work.

“Someone in the crowd said to [Jesus], ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?’ And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” And he said, “I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.’” [1]

Success looms large in our estimate; but how do you define success? Most of us would likely consider an individual successful if she held a large portfolio or if he enjoyed a large income. Perhaps we consider the individual who enjoys popularity to be successful; but even in that instance we usually assume that popularity equates to wealth. Measures of success vary, but usually we think of people who are well-known, easily recognised and especially people who are independently wealthy as those who are successful. However, we who are Christians should ask what the measure of success is in the Kingdom of God.

In order to discover God’s criterion for success we must consult the Creator. He made us. Since by His mercies we live or die, ultimately, success depends upon His estimate and not upon what we might think. To discover God’s measure of success, I invite you to consider a pericope found in Luke’s account of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus related a parable illustrating precisely what is important in the divine economy.

Jesus had been engaged in conflict with the Pharisees and Lawyers. He had stripped away the thin veneer hiding the corruption of their souls. Enraged, the religious leaders were hoping to catch Him in some verbal faux pas so they could at the least embarrass Him before His followers. Jesus, however, refused to play their game.

He warned His disciples to watch out for the traps such religious leaders would lay, cautioning them that the secrets of the heart will at last be revealed. Consequently, those who will live fearlessly must fear God supremely. “The fear of man lays a snare” [PROVERBS 29:25] remains an excellent warning.

Jesus expanded this warning, encouraging all who profess His Name to consider carefully their actions and their words. Jesus said, “I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” [LUKE 12:8-12].

You might think that someone hearing these words would soberly consider the implications for his or her own life. However, Jesus had not even finished speaking when one of his listeners interrupted complaining that the division of the family inheritance was unjust. In fact, the individual pleaded with Jesus to intervene, compelling the brother who had apparently received the larger portion to redress the supposed error.

Jesus brought the man up short, confronting him with a pointed question. “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Jesus did not come to judge earthly issues. The things of this earth must perish with their use. Consequently, wealth and efforts to accumulate wealth must ultimately perish. Money is simply a tool. Money itself is neutral, taking on character only as it is either employed to the glory of God, the betterment of the individual or as it is misused through being consumed on our desires. Jesus did not come to engage in mere material matters, but rather He came to bring salvation.

Note VERSE FIFTEEN, “…He said to them.” Who is “them?” I suppose it would be natural to conclude that Jesus turned His attention to the disciples, or even more naturally that He turned His attention to the crowd. However, I am certain that Jesus addressed the man who had cried out for judgement and the brother. Regardless of who was addressed, Jesus’ words will forever serve as a warning against greed. “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

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