Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he is a good God and that all his dealings with us are perfect. Praise God that he has told us that the beginning of wisdom is knowing and fearing him. Proverbs 9:10.
Confess the sin of foolishness, that is seeking to find joy in someone or something other than God, and so denying his work and presence in our lives.
Think, what’s important in your life? Please read Luke 12:13-21
Seek the help of the Holy Spirit as you turn to read his Word.
V13. A request.
Jesus is now confronted with a request from someone in the crowd. It is a personal request, involving two brothers and an inheritance. It is never easy getting involved in family disputes, especially where money or inheritance is involved. One can go in well-intentioned, but end up being 'set upon' by the previously non-agreeing parties. The other issue with personal matters is that they are usually of the 'utmost' importance and must take precedence over everything else. Often that is appropriate and necessary, but sometimes it is not. We need to take care not to turn every molehill into a mountain.
Rabbis customarily gave judgements on disputed points of law, and so it was natural for this man to think that Jesus, being a rabbi, would be interested in doing so. So, he approaches Jesus, probably not having heard much, if anything, of what Jesus has been saying, being so engrossed with this matter, and presents his case. He does what so many do; he states it solely from his perspective. 'I am right, and the other party is wrong, so please make a judgement in my favour, because that is the only option open to you.' It is a self-centred approach that perpetually plagues mankind, one which arises from the pride of the human heart.
Jesus does not comply with the request. His less than cordial use of the term 'man', and the subsequent response, indicates his indignation. Jesus is clearly not interested in 'winning friends and influencing people'. He was on the earth to fulfil the Father's commands, not to get caught up in taking sides in family disputes. The raising of this issue, though, does allow Jesus to speak into the situation.
The best teaching opportunities often come when someone asks a question or makes a request. Why? Because the questioner will obviously be interested in hearing the answer or response, and if it's a question/request about 'life', then others will listen, knowing that it is something they might face in the future. Some men, though, don't like being asked questions or receiving requests. Maybe it is because they feel threatened that either their knowledge or limitations will be exposed. Since I am only too well aware of my limitations, I don't find questions or issues off-putting; on the contrary, I relish them, because of the teaching opportunity they can afford.
V16. Take care and be on your guard.
Addressing the crowd, Jesus warns against the destructiveness of covetousness. He opens up with the words – "Take care, and be on your guard". Those are serious and challenging words. They demand that we sit up, take note, and then really think about what we are doing. And as you do your thinking, be on your guard because the territory you are entering poses a real threat. The word 'guard' literally means 'take positive action to ward off an impending enemy'. The sinful wrestle of wanting to protect ourselves from something that might happen in the future, by owning more, requires attention. It is a pattern of thought that affects more of us than we probably think. 'Others may have an issue with covetousness, but thankfully I am not too bothered by it. Yes, I have my savings accounts, financial investments, property, and other bit and pieces, but so does everyone else.' It is interesting how we tend to think that way about most, if not all, of the commandments. They're for others, not me.
V16. Look at the rich man.
To drive home the point, Jesus tells the crowd a parable. Parables are important because they help us to understand critical truths. We need to see beyond the nice story image and get into the depths of Jesus' challenging instruction.
It is about a rich man, someone significant in the eyes of the world; money talks, after all. Not that it is wrong to have money, it's not. It is the love of money that is a root of all kinds of evil, 2 Timothy 6:10. We're not told how the man accumulated his wealth, and there is certainly no hint of impropriety. He seems to have been an entrepreneur who was successful in building his family business. Again, nothing wrong with that. The problem lies in his reason for continuing to invest in his expanding business – to provide for himself in the future. One would think, 'what's the harm in that?' He is being prudent and wise in developing his business, and, in doing so, he is making good decisions in terms of providing for himself for the future. How could he be faulted for that? He isn't harming anyone; in fact, he must have been creating employment for a lot of people as he pressed on to grow bigger and bigger.
Well, the sin lay in his love of his self-image. It is the pride of seeing himself in terms of what he owned; that is the problem. He is motivated, driven to produce more and more solely for the sake of owning. And this is the critical point – it is in his 'owning' that he sees his 'being'. It is all about him and what he would do. The fact that God is giving him the breath to live, and creating the conditions for his crops to grow, etc., is irrelevant. This is his life; this is his farm, these are his crops, these are his barns, the plans he has to tear down and build up are his, the power to make it happen is his. Everything is his, and the more he has, the more he 'is'. He is using the measure of his worth to calculate the value of his being, his soul. Is this not applicable to the vast majority of people today? And not merely the unbelievers, but many Christians also. This is a fine line I am going to tread, but the response of many believers and churches to the ongoing current COVID-19 situation speaks a little to this, does it not? Yes, precautions had to be taken, and there are those who, because of illness, have to be careful. But on balance, is it unreasonable to ask, 'are we now getting to the point where an overemphasis on protection of the physical, a coveting of health, is being exercised at a cost to the soul?'
God speaks, and his speaking is completely at variance with the rich man's speaking. God uses one word to describe this man – "Fool!" We tend to think of a fool as someone who is stupid, someone who should know better. God defines a fool as a person who denies him – "The fool says in their heart there is no God," Psalm 14:1. Such denial never ends well; it can't. God demanded the rich man's soul that night and left him with the question, "the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" The words of Job are relevant, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21. How many family businesses have been founded upon the labours of a man or woman, devoid of any thought of God, to be carried on by the next generation, and then either sold or run into the ground by the third or fourth generation? And all for what? The soul of the founder to endure the torments of an eternity, separated from the peace of God and enduring his just wrath.
What is the wise thing to do in our lives? Whatever we do, and we must do something, the wise thing is to make sure that we are investing heavily in our relationship with God in the process of doing it. It is as simple as that.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 91B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
"Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,"
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 88 - What are the outward and ordinary means by which Christ gives to us the benefits of redemption?
Answer - The outward and ordinary means by which Christ gives to us the benefits of redemption are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer, and all these are made effective in the salvation of the elect.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God for the material blessings we have. They are many. Ask God for his help to show you where you are coveting, making an idol out of something good, and turning it into that which will be to our detriment.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC