August 21, 2022
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “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?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
I am not here to tell you how to divide your allowance, money that appears under your pillow or birthday money between toys and candy. I am not here to tell you how to divide your paycheck between your mortgage, car payment, investments, utilities, recreation, offerings, etc. I am not here to tell you how much to save for retirement. I am not here to tell you what size house on what size lot in what city to buy. I am not here to tell you the make and model of vehicle to buy. I am not here to tell you which non-profit, friend or family member to support. I am not here to tell you how to deal with inflation. I am not here to tell you those things because Jesus was not sent to this world to tell you how to divide up your money either.
One reason Jesus came to this world was to warn you to guard yourself against all kinds of greed. In our gospel reading from Luke 12, Jesus was teaching a large crowd,
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 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 my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’Luke 12:16-18
It is important to pause here and let you know that what the man said in the original Greek text, “And I’ll say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have plenty of grain laid up for many years.’” Jesus used the word soul intentionally in this parable. Your desires come from your soul; it is your soul that decides whether something satisfies your desires. For example, your eyes see food, your hand brings it to your mouth, your tongue tastes it and your stomach digests it, but your soul allows your body to enjoy food and the many other desires of this life. Your soul then is what is tempted by desires like greed as Jesus taught with the conclusion of his parable,
“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 whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”Luke 12:20-21
Jesus taught that greed promises an easy life, but it can never get enough because even great riches cannot save a person’s soul.
Greed distracts you from being rich toward God. In Luke 12, we hear that Jesus told this parable to a large crowd because
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”Luke 12:13-15
Jesus warned the crowd to watch out for the power of greed. Jesus’ teaching to the crowd is the same for you. You need to guard yourself against equating your soul’s wellbeing with gaining more possessions. It is not that Jesus condemns rich people. In fact, God has a history of giving riches to his people like Abraham, Solomon and Job. Jesus is not condemning someone looking for a job with a better salary or saving money for the future. Instead, Jesus warns you that greed should not take over your life. Greed causes your love for earthly possessions to steal your love away from God.
Rather than seeing yourself as rich from God’s forgiveness leading to eternal life in heaven, you worry about filling barns full of stuff like the rich man in the parable. In our New Testament reading from James 5, he condemns the greedy,
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days.James 5:1-3
Greed whispers this lie in your ear, “I do not have enough, but if I can get more, then one day I will have enough.” Greed and worry are closely connected; greed can never get enough, while worry is afraid it might not have enough. Greed puts more importance on earthly possessions than they are due. Greed does not trust God to provide. Greed is a danger to your soul, and as a Christian, you must guard yourself against it.
You need a strong shield to guard you against all kinds of greed. When the man from the crowd came to Jesus asking that he decide how much of the inheritance his brother should give him, Jesus taught him a lesson with unending dividends. In the parable Jesus told, the rich man was looking to the future, when he will get a certain amount and then he will take life easy, but his future was death, his soul was demanded from him, and his riches did not save him. Do not look to the future greedily working for more to save you. Look at what you already have to save and shield you. In our New Testament reading from James 5, we are pointed to the shield,
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.James 5:10-11
Job was a rich man for his day, but it was all taken away from him. He suffered but clung to the Lord. Despite his poverty, he held on to the Lord’s compassion and mercy. He guarded himself with this hope recorded in Job 19, 25 I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. Like Job your future is guaranteed because of what you already have in Christ. In Luke 24, we hear what has been done for you by Christ, 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee. Jesus died and rose to save you from sin and death giving you eternal life. You already have enough in Christ. Romans 8 lists your riches in Christ, 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. God chose you to be his people, to be declared not guilty of sin, to be given Jesus’ righteousness and to have the inheritance of heaven.
Your riches in Christ free you from all kinds of greed. In our Old Testament reading from Ecclesiastes 1, we hear the words, 2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Like Jesus, Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes is called the “Teacher”. Throughout Ecclesiastes Solomon calls greed for earthly possessions and achievements meaningless. He wrote,
So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.Ecclesiastes 1:20-23
It is meaningless to chase stuff. The soul chasing stuff is described as foolish, despairing, destine for misfortune, grief, pain, anxious striving, lack of control, restless nights, insomnia and finally left with nothing. While a soul after God is described as
To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.Ecclesiastes 1:26
Those who spend their life working to please God are given wisdom, knowledge, happiness and even more. The person who pleases God is not greedy, but gracious. The person who pleases God does not grumble but is thankful. The person who pleases God does not store up but uses and gives.
The people who please God have different amounts of wealth meaning different struggles with greed, which often distracts us leading to comparisons and judgments. You are not here to decide how others spend their wealth. You are teachers who warn one another to guard yourselves against all kinds of greed. And by teaching one another about Jesus, you give the shield and solution to greed. Christ saved your soul. And he saved all people. Share the wealth of Christ’s love, forgiveness, peace and inheritance of enteral life with the people in your life.
I am not here to tell you how to divide up your riches. I am not here to tell you that because Jesus was not sent to this world to tell you how to divide up your wealth either. One reason Jesus came to this world was to warn you to guard yourself against all kinds of greed. He gave this warning because greed turns you away from God. You are already rich toward God. Trying to add or substitute anything for Jesus is meaningless. Peter described the riches of your inheritance in 1 Peter 1,
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.1 Peter 1:3-5
Guard yourself against all greed. Be rich toward God. Amen.