In Luke 12:13-40 we have a series of parables which may on the surface seem to be isolated. However, upon closer study we find that there is a progression through out these parables that tells us about how Jesus viewed material wealth and possessions.
In Luke 12:13-21 we read about a man who asked Jesus to intervene in a financial matter between him and his brother. Jesus warns that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.
He further warns those listening that we should be rich toward God and not lay up treasure for ourselves. This is a clear warning against storing up wealth on earth for our own use.
Many people who say they believe the Bible will justify themselves by saying that they are simply storing wealth so that they can work for God in some manner without requiring a paid job to support them. Generally, this is just an attempt to ease their conscience. Most of these people dont specify when they will stop collecting and start the so called ministry they are considering.
The second section in Luke 12:22-34 builds on this.theme and even works against this self justification.
In Luke 12:22-34 Jesus tells the disciples not to be anxious about the things that we need (i.e. food and clothing). His encouragement in this passage is to “seek His kingdom and these things will be added to you” (Luke 12:31).
So, we are not to store up wealth for ourselves on earth and in the case where we can’t do that we shouldn’t be concerned about the things we need as God will provide them.
If we go back to our first objection – that we might be storing up wealth so we can serve the Lord – doesn’t that just go to show that we are anxious about what we might eat and wear while we are working for him? God takes care of all that – so wealth is not a requirement for ministry (despite what some modern missionary agencies say).
Another interesting facet of this passage is that we are told in verse 31 that we should seek Gods kingdom, while in verse 32 we are told that it is Gods pleasure to give us the kingdom. The kingdom is ours for the taking (or leaving). We are not to be concerned about what we need, and we should not gather store up wealth – rather Jesus encourages us in verses 33-34 to sell all that we have and give it to the poor in order to get true wealth.
The last section is Luke 12:35-40, which is a parable that commends servants who are concerned about doing what their master wants – they stay awake to wait for the bridegroom to return so that they can welcome him appropriately. The point here is clear – the servants were working for the master, not for themselves or their own gain. This is the way Jesus wants us to be when he returns.
Its easy to get distracted by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches (Matt 13:22), but we must not.
I’ll close this section with a thought from Henry Scougal and an example from scripture. Henry Scougal said “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love”. What is it that we love? What is the most treasured thing we have?
Job was a classic example. We read in Job 1 about how in one day he lost his oxen and donkeys, sheep and camels, servants and children to various calamaties. For most of us, in such cases we would be devastated, but Jobs reaction reveals much about his heart. In Job 1:20-21 we read “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said ‘Naked I came from my mothers womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord’”.
What was it that Job loved the most? It was obviously the Lord. All the things he had were as nothing compared to the value of God.
So may we be.