Summary: When the standards of the world guide you, you will have great woe. But when you let God determine who you are, you will be greatly blessed.
Luke 6: 17 – 26 Some Are Blessed; Some Are Not
Intro: The Roman Emperor Charlemagne asked to be buried sitting on his throne, with his drown on his head, his scepter in his hand and the royal cape draped around him with the open Bible in his lap with his finger pointing to Matthew 16:26 – “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?”
I. It seems that Charlemagne’s request was a statement about his values system. Even in death, it appears he had a need for the esteem of others. We all have a value system.
A. A Value system is defined as a collection of principles and standards that form our behavior and guide our decision-making.
B. Individuals and corporations have a value system that governs the way the live or do business. We either seek peace and harmony or uproar and chaos. Corporations either emphasize ethical conduct and caring or get the job done at any cost.
C. In this passage from the gospel of Luke, Jesus lays out the value system he expects his followers to adopt. He is not pronouncing a blessing on poverty, hunger or weeping. Nor is he placing a curse on riches, abundance, laughter and social acceptance.
II. Verse is 24 – “Woe to you who are rich because you have all the comfort you are going to get.” This is the key that unlocks a true interpretation of the entire passage.
A. Jesus saw how wealth could encase people in a hard shell of their seeming self-sufficiency. – remember the story of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus at night asking what he had to do to inherit the kingdom of God? He went away sorrowful because he couldn’t give it all away.
B. When wealth changes people’s value system until they are no longer eager for the gifts of God because they think they already have everything worth desiring, they will not find a blessing from God. The rich are apt to be so preoccupied with their possessions they fail to respond to God’s invitation.
C. William James wrote – “The desire to gain wealth and the fear to lose it are our chief breeders of cowardice and propagators of corruption.” The rich are shortsighted and are lulled into a false security when they think their present abundance ensures their future comfort.
III. The blessings of the poor neither idealizes nor glorifies poverty. It declares God’s prejudicial commitment to the poor.
A. The qualities of the poor which can make life deserve enrichment: simplicity of heart, the capacity to find happiness in oneself and in the love of people rather than the luxury of things.
B. The poor are those whose desperate need and whose inability to help themselves have driven them to turn to God for their hope. We may not be poor; but God calls you and I to a reordering of the priorities we have set for our lives.
C. Ask yourself this question, “Is what I’m doing with my life right now drawing me closer to God or keeping me from enjoying Him?
Conclu: When the standards of the world guide you, you will have great woe. But when you let God determine who you are, you will be greatly blessed. When you let your looks, your poverty, your hunger, your sadness, and your lack of popularity be the final word about the meaning and significance of your life, you will be in hopelessness and despair. But when you let the kingdom of God have the final word about the meaning and significance of your life, you will have true joy and know without a doubt that you are blessed by God.