Summary: A sermon about focusing on what is important.
"Is Your Treasure in Heaven?"
Last week, the Times-Free Press had a survey question: "Should the government do more to help poor people of all races?"
A recent news story stated that, according to a financial guru, 4 out of every 5 adults in America are living on the edge of financial ruin.
And to attest to this fact, in our own community, if you were to stay at the church office for an entire day during the week you would answer a number of phone calls from people begging for help with their power bills and rent.
You would get about 2 or 3 calls from folks wanting food from our small food pantry which is basically barren again.
And you would receive one or two calls from people who are living in their cars and need help to pay for a motel for the night.
The other day I was visiting someone at the hospital, and as I was traveling back down on the elevator I started making small talk with a woman who was also on the elevator.
As we were parting, I told her that I hoped she had a nice day.
And then she asked me, "Do you work here?"
"No," I said, "I am a pastor."
As soon as I said this, she motioned for me to come closer, and said she had something she needed to talk to me about.
I knew what was coming.
She needed financial help.
Those are the kinds of times that I wish pastors made a lot more money!!!
Anyhow, we are living in a time of great need.
Of course, people have always lived in times of great need.
Throughout Luke's Gospel, it is made clear that one of the great themes of the Christian life or what it means to follow Jesus is the act of giving to the poor.
For instance, when Mary sings praises to God for choosing her as the one who will give birth to the Savior of the world, Mary proclaims in Chapter 1: "[God] has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed."
When Jesus announces His mission in Chapter 4 He says that He has come to "preach good news to the poor."
In Luke 6 Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
Luke is also the Gospel where Jesus tells the parable of "The Rich Man and Lazarus."
Remember, Lazarus was a beggar, covered in sores who longed to eat even the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.
But the rich man ignored Lazarus.
When they died, Lazarus was carried to Abraham's side whereas the rich man went to hell.
We also have the story of "The Rich Young Ruler," Zacchaeus, and I could go on and on.
And so here we are this morning faced with the parable of the "Rich Fool," after which Jesus instructs us "do not worry..."
And then in verse 33 He says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning, Jesus is teaching His disciples amid a crowd of thousands when an unnamed person interrupts Him with a demand.
He asks Jesus to tell his brother to divide an inheritance with him.
According to Jewish inheritance practices, an older brother would get 2/3's of an estate while the younger brother would get 1/3.
And this brother wants Jesus to help him get his rightful possessions.
And Jesus responds with, "Man, who appointed me as judge or referee between you and your brother?"
And then Jesus issues an important warning to the crowd and to us: "Watch out! Guard yourself against all kinds of greed.
After all, one's life isn't determined by one's possessions, even when someone is very wealthy."
Then Jesus shoots right into the parable of the "Rich Fool."
It should be noted that this rich man is not just some simple farmer with a small plot of land.
Rather, he controls much of the agricultural produce over an entire region or district.
Also, his bumper crop, should have been regarded as a generous blessing from God.
Instead of a blessing, though, the rich man thinks of this huge harvest in terms of a problem.
"He said to himself, 'What will I do? I have no place to store my harvest!'"
His barns are already bursting to overflowing--he must have had a good harvest the year before as well--poor guy!!!
"If only my barns were bigger!!!"
His concern over having inadequate storage space indicates that he has no intention of either selling or sharing his crops.