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Summary: A sermon on greed

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A sermon on Luke 12:13-21

I’m thinking it over!

The old Jack Benny radio program had a sketch of Jack being robbed at gunpoint. Jack Benny was reported to be the tightest man alive. In the radio sketch the robber points a gun at and says to Jack, "Hey bud, your money or your life." He gets no reply. So he says again, "Hey bud, I said your money or your life!" Jack replied, "Don’t rush me! I’m thinking it over!"

Today’s Theme

Our Gospel reading this morning, that Edna just read to us, talks about Greed.

I got the fish to prove it!

Greed is something we all struggle with. It takes many different forms, as Jesus said. But greed is something we all struggle with. Pastors struggle with greed. I know some of you might find that hard to believe. But pastors struggle with greed. We always want more people in church on Sunday morning. I was reading last week. One Sunday afternoon, a preacher showed up at the home of one of the deacons. ‘Deacon Jones, I understand you skipped church this morning to play golf!’ The young man protested. ‘Why Pastor, that’s an out and out lie! And I got the fish right here to prove it!’ But seriously, avarice and greed are things we all struggle with on some level in this life. And as Jesus said, greed can take many forms. And the Lord talks to us about that, in His very famous parable, the ‘Parable of the Rich Fool’.

Take Out Your Bibles

It is found in the twelfth chapter of the Luke’s Gospel. If you want to turn there, we’ll be looking at verses thirteen through twenty one this morning.


As we jump into the middle of the twelfth chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching before a very large crowd of several thousand people. And He is interrupted.

The man in the crowd

We read, ‘Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" (Luke 12:13-14, NAU)

The man’s request

Jesus was teaching, and this man interrupted Him with a request. ‘Tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ Now, no one knows why he asked that, although, it was the tradition at that time for the eldest son to get a double portion of an estate. [1] So maybe He was younger son and he wanted an equal share, which isn’t unfair. But the way the man asked Jesus wasn’t all that nice. This doesn’t come through that well in our English translations, but the man was ordering Jesus around. Now maybe, in fairness, the man detected a spirit of justice in Jesus that would have made Him a good arbitrator. After all, that was one of the tasks of Rabbis in that day. And Jesus was a Rabbi. And that was one of things that Rabbis did back then in society. They were basically: Justices of the Peace, and small claims court judges, and things like that. [2]We don’t know, from context, if the guy was being greedy about something that wasn’t lawfully his, or not. But who hasn’t seen relatives wrangling over some deceased relatives belongings? But someone in the crowd interrupts Jesus as He’s teaching and calls out, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family estate with me.’

Christ’s refusal

And for whatever reason, Jesus refused the man’s request, ignored it really, and refused to settle the man’s claim. In fact, the way Jesus answered to the guy was a little bit surly in its own right, ‘Who appointed Me judge over you?’ Jesus refused to get involved. And there were probably a number of good reasons for this. And he went on with His teaching that day. But as we see here, Jesus used the incident to teach about the dangers of greed. He said, ‘Be on your guard against every form of greed.’

Some desires are insatiable

There is a certain truth there, ‘Be on your guard against every form of greed.’ There is a certain truth there, that some desires in this life are simply insatiable. Like the Bible says, ‘The eye is not satisfied in seeing. The ear is not satisfied in hearing.’ [3] In fact, the Ancient Romans had a proverb which reads: ‘Money is like sea-water; the more a man drinks, the thirstier he becomes’.

Desires can become ends in themselves

There are things in this life that God meant to be tools, - that can easily become ends in themselves. [4] Money can be like that. And money isn’t the only thing in life that can become an end in itself. There are many legitimate desires, that God created for us to enjoy, that if we give them free reign in our hearts, if we let them run their course, they can become an ends in themselves. That can happen with: money, or drinking, or relationships, or any number of things in this life, [5] where legitimate wants and needs can become ends in themselves. They can become greed, and covetousness, and lust. And they can bind us. [6] And Christ is warning us about that here.

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