Summary: This passage forces us to make a decision about what kind of life do we want? Do we want a life dependent on things of this world or a life with no guarantee of any of the world’s goods but close to God?
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 32
“The Folly of Seeking the Comfortable Life”
Luke 12: 13-24
Every day of our lives we are being pulled in a number of different directions on one hand we have family responsibilities pulling us one way; our obligations to the church pulling us another and friends pulling us in yet another. We are left wondering, “What is really important in life?”
The passage that we are going to examine today in Luke forces us to make a decision about what kind of life do we want? Do we want a life dependent on things of this world or a life with no guarantee of any of the world’s goods but close to God?
This passage is very relevant to us today because most people in America the main priority in life is to attain enough money to live the good life. We are bombarded on television with shows like, Lives of the Rich and Famous, Fabulous Wealthy Hideways. Etc. Today no matter what one possesses, someone else has something bigger, better or different. Especially in American society the distance between comfortable and covetous may not be that great.
Jesus is in the middle of a sermon teaching his disciples to fear God alone, when he is suddenly interrupted by a man who is dissatisfied over what he considers to be an unfair division of his father’s estate between himself and his brother. I find it oddly comforting that even the Lord Jesus Christ could not keep everyone’s attention. One such man says in verse thirteen, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me."
Down through history there have been a innumerable families that have been destroyed over a thing as simple as the distribution of assets. In my own family my grandfather became angry over the way his mother’s estate was divided and he did not speak to his brothers again for years.
This man really didn’t ask Jesus for a decision on what would be a fair division of the estate, he just demanded, “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me!”
Jesus did not answer as he was expected to do. In verse fourteen he says to the man, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" Jesus refuses to be sidetracked from his mission of seeking and saving the lost.
Instead Jesus does not make a legal judgment but a moral one. Jesus knew that this family feud over inheritance was only a symptom of a greater problem greed. In fact the “you” in verse fourteen is plural indicating that both brothers have a problem with greed. As long as both brothers are suffering from greed no settlement would be satisfactory.
Jesus tells him that the most important thing is not for him to solve his problem but that his heart be changed. But if we are honest, “How often have we gone to God asking him to change our situation rather than asking him to change our heart?” I would dare say that most of our prayers are that God would solve a problem in our lives. Perhaps our prayer should be, “God here is my problem, please change my heart?”
Then in verse fifteen Jesus. “And He said to them, "Take heed and beware of covetous-ness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."
When he says, “take heed and beware” he is literally saying “be on guard against all kinds of greed.” The area of danger for this man was “greed or covetousness” (pleonexia) and it means “the lust to have more than one’s fair share, a grasping for more that is never satisfied” or to put it another way covetousness is “wanting more of what you already have enough of!”
Proverbs 21:26 speaks to this very problem when
it says, “They are always greedy for more, while
the godly love to give.” (NLT) The writer of
Ecclesiastes says about the greedy (5:10), “Those
who love money will never have enough. How
absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness.”
(NLT) But is that not exactly what we think? How
many of us think if we could just win the
Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes we could
we could live the good life.
Charles Swindoll has pictured it this way, “Picture a shipwrecked sailor on a life raft in the middle of the ocean. His terrible thirst impels him to drink the salt water, but it only make him thirstier. This causes him to drink even more, which males him thirstier still. He consumes more and more of the salty water … until, paradoxically, he becomes dehydrated and dies.” [Charles Swindoll & Ken Gire. Study Guide. “Living Above the Level of Mediocrity.” (Anaheim, CA; Insight for Living, 1994). p. 83]