“Then someone from the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator between you two?’ Then he said to them, ‘Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions’” (Luke 12:13-15 NET).
Two men came to Jesus with what one of them considered to be a problem: he didn’t think he was getting a fair share of the inheritance. We don’t know the circumstances of his complaint, but it could have been as simple as the way inheritance laws were set up in God’s Law. The firstborn son would receive a double portion of the inheritance (see Deuteronomy 21:15-17). If that is the case here, the younger son might be complaining that the inheritance was not split equally and was hoping Jesus would change the inheritance law so he could have more.
Jesus could see what the real problem was: greed. So he told them a story.
“The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop, so he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” (Luke 12:16-20).
This story was about a man who wanted more. And in this case, he had more. He had a bumper harvest of crops, so much that his barns could not hold everything. As wealth was often calculated in crops, this man was rich! What a problem to have, we might think! What would he do with all he now had.
His problem was that while there was so much good he could have done with this newly acquired wealth, he could only think of himself. As you look at the conversation he had with “himself” you discover that he was the only person on his mind. In the few sentences of this conversation, he referred to himself at least twelve times. He had “I” trouble! All he could see was himself.
Aren’t we often like this? When we suddenly have more of this life’s wealth all we can think about is what we can do for “me.” Yet we, like the man in the story, could do so much. We could help those trying to take the good news of Jesus to new areas. We could help those who are less fortunate than we are. There are so many good things that we could do instead of spending it to make ourselves happy.
Often many see what they have as security. Yet they fail to realize that the blessings we are fortunate enough to have now can just as easily disappear. And then what do we have?
Let us realize the truth that the man in the story didn’t understand: “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Real security is not in what we have but in preparing for eternity. Jesus made this application: “So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
Where is our security?
Readings for next week:
19 February – Luke 11:29-54
20 February – Luke 12:1-34
21 February – Luke 12:35-59
22 February – Luke 13
23 February – Luke 14