It’s a common belief among outsiders that all preachers ever talk about is money. That’s certainly not true where I preach, but maybe it should be. If there was a modern idol competing for our devotion, it just might be the almighty dollar. Money is not the source of all evil (that honor goes to the love of money, 1 Timothy 6:10), but it certainly is the cause for a great deal of unhappiness.
The Younger Brother’s Dilemma
A young man turned to Jesus for help. “Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me,’” (Luke 12:13). The inheritance laws in those days seemed unjust (see Deuteronomy 21:17). The older brother got the family farm, and the rest of the siblings had to be satisfied, dividing whatever else was left. It seems unfair to us until you realize the consequences of dividing the farm between all of the siblings. An acre becomes half an acre, and then a quarter of an acre until there is nothing left, but to the younger brother, this didn’t matter. He saw himself as a victim.
On the other hand, Jesus could see the young man’s heart and used this as an opportunity to teach us about possessions: “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed….” (v. 14).
The Parable of the Rich Fool
It’s surprising to note how many times Jesus talked about money unless we realize how prevalent a sin greed is. Do you remember the Parable of the Rich Fool, which comes just a few verses later?
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“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?’
“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16 – 21).
There are two things to note about the Rich Fool: He never saw beyond himself, and he never considered anything past the present. (Ecclesiastes 5:15 and Job 1:21 remind us we will leave this world the same way we came into it.)
What Shall We Do?
Let’s ask ourselves some important questions. First, what does money represent to you? Freedom? Prestige? Power? The Apostle Paul says greed is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5), so ask yourself, “How can money compete with God?”
As a minister, I’ve asked elders to consider why people give to the church. Some answer, “Because they feel obligated. They joined the club, and now they have to pay the dues.” Others say: “because they are philanthropists at heart, and love to give to a good cause.” They remember the words of John: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (1 John 3:17).
My perspective is a little different. I think there are two good reasons. First, giving should come from “An Attitude of Gratitude.” Worship at its heart is just that: an attitude of gratitude. We know Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain, but why did he offer a sacrifice at all? He was grateful!
Second, do you remember the story of Manna? (Exodus 16) No one was to try and gather more than they needed for that day. Why? God was teaching them (and us) a lesson. We need to trust in God. Are you giving so graciously it is an act of trust – an act of worship?
Do you have time for some questions?
1. Do you think the young man had a valid complaint?
2. Why didn’t Jesus address his complaint?
3. Define “greed.”
4. Is wealth good or evil?
5. Scripture Search:
a. Ecclesiastes 5:10
b. Matthew 6:24
c. 1 Timothy 6:10
d. Hebrews 13:5
1. How much is “enough”?
2. Who is more concerned about money: the rich or the poor?
3. How can the love of money be the root of all evil?
4. How much should Christians give?
5. Why is God concerned about how we use our money?
Burn a dollar. (Hey! It’s just a buck, but if it bothers you, ask yourself why? If it still bothers you, wait till we can go out again, put it in some poor barista’s tip jar – in addition to your regular tip. Just don’t let her see you do it!)
Be a Blessing!