In the previous article, Jesus responded to a request from a man in the crowd with a parable, described in Luke 12:13-21. After considering that many of us feel that it is wise to save up for an eventual retirement (from our current job, at least, since we might not be able to do the same work our entire lives), the question was asked, “So, what did the guy in this parable do wrong?”
Consider these observations:
- The man in this parable seems to have wanted to use God’s blessings for himself, rather than for what God wanted him to use it for.
- Maybe he wanted to keep more than he needed, like the Israelites who tried to gather more manna than they were told to (more than they needed for the prescribed time), instead of trusting God to provide more the next day (or the day after the Sabbath).
- He seems to have forgotten who provided for him in the first place. After all, it was God who allowed this man to become rich, and who made it possible for the crops to grow and yield a harvest. This may be what verse 21 is telling us.
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12:21 NIV
In any case, what could he have done instead?
- He could have given away (or at least shared) his surplus, whether to his workers, the poor, his children (as an early inheritance – remember the question that triggered this parable in the first place), or his community.
- At a minimum, he could have asked God what He wanted him to do with the windfall.
This ties in to the Good Samaritan, whose parable we studied in recent articles. As I also learned in another study series (sponsored by our congregation), the priest and the Levite may have asked themselves, “How will stopping to help this man impact me?”, but the Samaritan asked himself, “How will not helping this man impact him?” The rich man in this parable seems to have been thinking primarily of himself and his own luxury.
Note that either of these choices probably would have required the man in today’s parable to trust in God for the future a little more, rather than trusting in his possessions to take care of him indefinitely. Remember what happens when we trust in our possessions, though, as Jesus described in Matthew 6:19-21:
- We can lose what we have trusted in, if it’s just things of this world.
- We can end up giving our heart to something that doesn’t care about us.
I can’t tell you exactly how – and how much – God is calling you to invest in eternity, but I do hope that we will each ask Him, listen for His answer, and then let go of what He calls us to share.
Regardless of the amount that God calls us to give away, may we each let go of trusting in our stuff, rather than in God. Whatever you may be worrying about, God’s got it. There’s no need to be greedy.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for May 8, 2022
- The Lookout, May 8, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Luke, by Mark C. Black. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.