Summary: This sermon is adapted from Andy Stanley's book "Enemies of the Heart." It is about the idol of greed and how the habit of generosity overthrows it.
It Came From Within: Greed
Luke 12:15-21 NIV
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “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. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20 “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?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Guilt says, "I owe you." Anger says, "You owe me." But, greed says, "I owe me." The person whose heart is coated by greed believes that they have earned everything that they possess and therefore that they have the right to do whatever they want with it. They have a supersized sense of ownership. What most greedy people do not recognize is that they are all too often motivated by fear. The question that is underneath the layers of excuses we hear the words, "But what if...?" Greed is often fear in disguise. The greedy person doesn't think God will or can take care of them and therefore they are determined to take care of themselves. Greed leads to hoarding.
There are principles in the book of Proverbs that teach us wise stewardship. We should do things like prepare for retirement and save something to give to our children when we are gone. These are good things and this is why greed is so tricky. Our hearts can be dominated by greed and covered up with a seemingly righteous or prudent practice. The human heart is very tricky.
Some people fall into BBS (Bigger Barn Syndrome). That is what happened to the man in the parable in our text. Jesus began the parable emphatically, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” He says it is something that we really have to be discerning about, greed! The things that come from within and defile us, can live deep down inside and lay there festering undetected for years. Greed is that way. Greed is difficult to self-diagnose.
Jesus shines the light on the greedy heart with the words, "life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." It should be obvious, but greed is tricky. After this Jesus launches out into our parable. There is a man who lives in an agrarian society and happens to have an amazing year. He, of all people, should know that there are many factors that contributed to him having such a great yield. There were factors beyond his control, the weather being one of the major factors. The seed, and so forth. But greedy people often cannot see the obvious and they think that they have earned everything that they have. In our own nation, this is possible. A person who works hard can achieve anything, we say. But that is not always true. We are fortunate to have the opportunities that we have. There are people who will live and die without ever having the opportunities that you take for granted every single day! Since this landowner thinks he has earned all that he has, God has no place in his thoughts. Even if he does, he does not imagine that God has given him the extra for any other reason than his own consumption. God gave you what you have by his grace. The question that the man should have asked himself is, "Lord, what do you want me to do with the extra?" Say it with me for fun. :-) He doesn't think that way, and often neither do we. He has BBS. He decides to hoard what God has given, after all, he earned it. He OWES it to himself. Greed says, "I owe me."
Daniel and Robyn in our own congregation actually make money for helping those less fortunate by buying up storage units of people who had BBS. People who have so much excess that they could not keep it in their homes and so had to rent a place offsite to store it all. Often they pass on out of this world and their stuff winds up going to someone else anyway. The stuff may go to someone who needs it and will use it along their journey through this life, or it may go to someone else who will like them, hoard it up until they too pass from this life, BBS.