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Worship Theme: Focused Living Recognizes that Earthly Wealth Is Passing
Sermon Theme: What Are You Storing Up?
The great thing about parables is that it is very easy to plunk yourself right into it. So, let’s do that. Let’s start by looking at the warning that Jesus sets before you today from Luke 12:13-21. “What are you storing up?” July 31, 2022.
A little child was walking along the shores of Lake Michigan and fell in love with all of the colorful stones that were washed up on the shore. There were smooth ones and jagged ones, different sizes and shapes and details in each one. When a certain stone caught his eye, he put it the pocket of his shorts. Soon he had so many stones stored up in his pocket that his shorts wouldn’t stay up unless he held them up with his free hand. He did this kind of waddle walk because his pockets were so heavy and overloaded. It was comical to see. But he wasn’t willing to give up those special stones.
The walk eventually led to a playground with slides and swings and climbing walls. The boy tried to climb up the steps, but he couldn’t. The stones weighed him down, kept him from moving, from running around, from enjoying the playground. Buts still he stubbornly refused to let them go. So, he sat and pouted. If it seems a bit foolish to you, you’re right. All he had to do was empty his pockets and let go of the rocks and he could go and enjoy the playground. What are you storing up in your life?
A man had a problem. His father had passed away leaving an inheritance to his two sons. But the man’s brother wouldn’t divide up the inheritance and give him his share. So, the man went to Jesus and asked him to help him out. “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
There’s not necessarily anything wrong at face value with this man’s request. He was entitled to the inheritance. But Jesus, as true Lord, looked into the man’s heart and saw that this was a request that was driven by more than just a request for what was right, but a request driven by greed. In response to the man’s request for Jesus to be a mediator, Jesus gave this stern warning, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” What are you storing up in your life?
Jesus then continued with a parable, a story that would communicate and explain an important spiritual truth. There was a rich man who had an exceptional harvest and didn’t have enough room in his barns to store it all. Here was his plan, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’” The rich man found security and all he needed for a pleasing life in his vast possessions. He thought that life would be easy for him.
However, we learn from God’s response that it wasn’t a God-pleasing plan. “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” The man’s time of grace, his life was going to come to an end that night. Suddenly, all the wealth in the world didn’t matter. It didn’t matter how many barns the man had and how full they were, he couldn’t take any of it with him and it no longer served him.
One of the wisest and wealthiest people to ever walk this earth was King Solomon, a king of Israel in the Old Testament. He experienced wealth and all it had to offer. Listen to the conclusion he came to. “I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19).
God called the rich man a fool. Why? It wasn’t foolish that the man was planning for the future and storing away his wealth. Financial planning is a good thing. It wasn’t foolish that the man was blessed to be rich. Plenty of people in the Bible serve as examples of people who were blessed to be wealthy. So why was the rich man a fool? “I, I, I, me, myself, and I.” The man was rich with earthly possessions, but he wasn’t rich toward God. He didn’t acknowledge that his wealth and great harvest were gifts from the Lord. He didn’t give the Lord abundant thanks for these things. He was so focused on himself and his treasures that he was storing up in his barns that he had no room or place for God in his life. His pockets were full and he wasn’t willing to let go of a greedy heart. It was foolish because with all the resources he had, he would stand before the Lord and his eternal judgment with no spiritual resources. “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” What are you storing up in your life?
The great thing about parables is that it is very easy to plunk yourself right into it. So, let’s do that. Let’s start by looking at the warning that Jesus sets before you today. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
You first need to realize the need to watch out for greed in your life. Greed is the intense and selfish desire for something, often wealth or power. But much bigger than greed is the underlying issue. Where does greed come from? It comes from a heart that isn’t content with what you have. It comes from a heart that doesn’t trust God to provide for you or care for you. It comes from a heart that can be spiritually empty. What are you storing up in your life?
The man in the parable is rich so you might be tempted to think that the issue of greed is something only for the wealthy. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The selfish desire for more can strike the rich or poor, young or old, from any type of culture. Greed can be a sin with which you struggle and probably do in various ways.
Think about the different ways that you can be greedy. The first thing most people recognize is the greed for wealth, to selfishly hold on to money and put trust for the present in money and hope for the future in money. Do you recognize what’s missing? Trust in the Lord to care for you as he has promised.
For instance, did you put a lot of hope and desire and sink a lot of money that you didn’t really have into trying to win the Mega Millions lottery and 1.2 billion dollars this past week? Or maybe you’re just putting your comfort and security in life in your savings or investments. If you’re putting your trust and hope in earthly wealth like that, you’re leaving yourself spiritually empty. You have far better odds trusting in Jesus.
Greed is not just the desire for more wealth. It’s the selfish desire for power, for recognition, for the better position. It’s being selfish with your time, with your possessions, with your talents so that you don’t share for the benefit of others, or that you don’t have room or time for God.
What does greed lead you to do? It leads you to steal, to lie, to hurt others who are in the way of your desires, to become arrogant and conceited. It moves you to fill up your life with so much earthly stuff and selfish intentions that you don’t have room for a relationship with the Lord. You don’t have time or desire for his Word, for worship, for godly service, for God’s people.
The Old Testament believer, Job, put it well. “If I have put my trust in gold or said to pure gold, ‘You are my security,’ if I have rejoiced over my great wealth, the fortune my hands had gained, if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor, so that my heart was secretly enticed and my hand offered them a kiss of homage, then these also would be sins to be judged, for I would have been unfaithful to God on high” (Job 31:24–28). What are you storing up in your life?
I pray that today is a wake-up call for you to evaluate your life and what your relationship with earthly wealth looks like. Why? Because there is only one relationship, one treasure that truly matters. There is only one that lasts beyond this life. That’s a relationship with God. Value the treasure of his grace displayed in Christ Jesus who lived and died to set you free from sin and give you eternal life. Apply in your life the words that you heard from Colossians chapter 3, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
After some time, the father went to the little child pouting on the ground and weighed down with his pockets full of stones. He said, “How about we take those stones out and leave them on a pile right here. Then you can run around and play on the playground. The stones will still be there, but you don’t need to hang on to them any longer.”
Your heavenly Father, the Lord God, does the same. He comes to you and says to empty your pockets, your lives of all the things that you greedily cling to which keep you from life with him. Don’t value things in this world more than him. Most importantly, empty out at the foot of the cross all of your sins, all of your guilt, all of your fears, your failures, your selfish desires, and let Jesus pick you up and fill you with faith, peace, joy, and certain hope. Jesus gives you a new life and attitude so that you can be rich toward God. Give glory to God for all that he places in your life thanking him with the way you live. Work hard at whatever is set before you, but don’t worry that it won’t be enough. Be faithful and trust God to provide. Don’t forsake the Lord as you strive to prepare for the future, but leave all things in the Lord’s guiding hands. Know with a heart of faith the greatest treasure in the universe – forgiveness, life, and salvation with God. In this way, you will be filled with treasures far greater and more abundant than anything else.
At the end of the day, the boy left without any stones in his pockets, even though he had treasured them so much. You see, his hands were filled as he held on to the hand of his father. He didn’t need an abundance of possessions. He just needed his dad.
What are you storing up? Amen.
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