Chapter 12:13-21 (ESV) - Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Question to consider: What did Jesus mean by this parable?
As we have seen over the last few days, the crowds had begun to grow significantly larger as Jesus began His journey to Jerusalem. Many had probably come from those who followed the disciples back to Jesus after they went out to proclaim the kingdom of God had arrived. After all, the journey to Jerusalem would have been interpreted by them that Jesus was going to oust Herod and take His rightful place on the throne of David. Others might have left their synagogues after Jesus began exposing the false teachings of the Pharisees and lawyers.
All of them were like sheep without a shepherd and looked to Jesus to guide them. So a man stepped up and asked for Jesus to take his side in an inheritance dispute. Jesus dismissed the request and instead gave a truth statement that is relevant to all generations, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” In fact, instead of coveting what is not our own, Jesus’ parable calls us to set aside a life of ease and be rich toward God. A key component of the “American Dream” is to build up our estates in such a way that we can retire at 65 (maybe earlier) and live the “good life.”
I don’t think Jesus is against planning for the future with savings and retirement accounts. Proverbs 30:25 says, “the ants are a people not strong, yet they provide their food in the summer,” which is a commendation to plan and save during times of abundance. However, we should ask ourselves what we are retiring to do? If we see retirement as the ability to engage in full-time ministry, retirement can be a blessing. However, if our intent is to be like the man in the parable and “relax, eat, drink, be merry,” we should reconsider our plan.
In Ephesians chapter 2, Paul explains that we are saved by grace and not works so there is no room for boasting, but we are still created for good works. Verse 10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” As long as God has us here, we should be rich toward God with our time and resources.
Dear heavenly father, help us to be rich toward You with our time and possessions. Give us a heart for the lost so that we desire to work for Your kingdom instead of the one that is perishing all around us. As we head into this season of Lent, set our face toward You as Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem. Amen.