Jesus speaks about money and possessions, worry and anxiety, about your security in life
jesus says that knowing him will change your relationship towards your money ..and your possessions.
To people who are beginning to follow or considering following him Jesus says v15 ‘Watch out for greed’
Following Jesus challenges your greed, your materialism. To which you we might well say, ‘greed? i may be a lot of things but i don’t think i’m greedy.’
really? says Jesus. ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.’
The reason Jesus has to say watch out is because of all the sins which can hinder our spiritual lives, greed is the most elusive. None of us thinks we are greedy not compared to ‘those others’ – but Jesus says there are all kinds of greed. You don’t need to be rich to suffer with it, you can be penniless and full of greed. Watch out.
So how do you define greed? Where do you draw the line as to what is or isn’t greedy?
Well Jesus doesn’t do that, what he does is he describes the characteristics of greed – 2 kinds – and he alerts us to the warning signs to watch out for and then he offers a cure to money sickness. A threefold cure..
- A New security
- A New beauty
- A New priority
- A New security
The first kind of greed that Jesus identifies here occurs when you make money your security. When you look to money to make you safe. This kind of greed shows itself in the desire to store up money and possessions. That’s your security.
These are the danger signs:
When you have some wealth stored up you gloat. Arrogance
When you don’t have anything or enough stored up you worry. Anxiety
Arrogance and Anxiety..
Let’s look at the first one. Listen to the rich fool gloating v19 I’ll say to myself. You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. Have you ever seen that arrogant sign of greed in yourself? i can remember the one time when my wife Fiona and i were both working – we were DINKYs - and we were able to start packing out our ISAs a bit and i would go online daily just to survey our amassing wealth and i felt very good about myself – gloating cos you’ve got some wealth stored up.
And then there’s the second one. Perhaps it’s more familiar – Anxiety. Worrying about money. Jesus talks at length about his in Vv22-32. It’s interesting to consider that worrying about money is a sign of greed. Look at v29 Jesus says Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink, do not worry about it. To worry about money and possessions is to set your heart on money and possessions. In money i trust. And so even though you don’t have any, you are just as absorbed with money, just as money-centric as the person storing up more and more.
[It’s telling isn’t it that while Hackney is the second poorest borough in the country there are more betting shops per head of population here than anywhere in the country. The powerful appealing to the anxious greed of the poor. In money we trust. ]
Well of course the whole point of the parable of the rich fool is to expose the stupidity of seeking your security in money. to expose the deception.
Of course having lots of money can make life more convenient. You can buy every manner of gadgets and items, you can get your personal shopper to go and do your shopping for you. But of course the question is – is the time that you need to go shopping – is that really what makes life difficult? No – what makes life difficult is tragedies, accidents, sicknesses, broken relationships and death. And money doesn’t do anything to stop any of those things! In fact, the situation that leads to Jesus’ telling of the parable of the rich fool - the man coming to Jesus: ‘make my brother share the inheritance with me’ – reminds us that it is often disputes about money that lead to the breakdown of relationships. Money doesn’t solve life’s deepest difficulties – sometimes it makes them worse!
Watch out! Beware the deception that storing up money brings security.
The rich fool’s discovery was that far from being an owner, he was in fact owned.
That everything we have, including our souls, our very life belongs to God. We only possess anything in trust from him and therefore our true security is found in God alone. Jesus says find New Security in Him. Lift up your eyes from your bank statements and pay slips and look out of the window. …
V24 Consider the Ravens. (i guess if Jesus had come to 21st C London he’d have said consider the pigeons) They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!
Jesus says, this is the involvement of the creator sustaining his creation: It is not by chance that birds daily and consistently find food. God sustains his creatures. And if this loving God feeds them, won’t he feed you who are much more valuable to him than they are?
Jesus isn’t giving us an excuse for idleness – lie back and let God provide. The ravens work extremely hard, but they rely on God and so are free from worry or arrogance. They do not store up for themselves. They do not need to.
And so the Q is – where is your security? Will you entrust yourself to your Creator. The God who cares for you and has the whole world in his hands. Or will you anxiously or arrogantly rely on yourself, your plans, your money?
A new security
- A new beauty
God secures the ravens. But in vv27+28 God arraigns and adorns the fields There is a second kind of greed that Jesus subtly identifies here.
Just as there are some for whom money is their security and so they store it up
There are others who make money their beauty. They use possessions to make them feel worthy and important and attractive. To be approved of and loved. These people don’t store up, they spend ..in order to array themselves, their homes. As v30 says a world without God runs after things
[The TV pictures of the crowds at the Boxing Day Sales – a record turn out (perhaps you were there?) in the stampede for the half price Louis Vuitton Handbags. The pursuit of personal significance, of beauty in possessions. ]
Of course the irony is that if you construct your worth from the possessions with which you surround yourself in the end you have no idea if people like you for you.
Jesus says – v15 a person’s life does not consist in the abundance of their possessions. Jesus says lift up your eyes from your glossy catalogues, cancel your shopping trip and (while of course God loves cities) take a train into the countryside sometime and vv27 -28 "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!”
There is a beauty, Jesus says that outshines the splendour of King Solomon, a worth and significance which you cannot purchase or construct because it is a gift from God. He clothes you. He adorns your life, your character. He alone satisfies completely. True beauty comes from God alone. What you do is you listen to him - start here in the Bible - the words about his love for you. He, Jesus died for you. Listen here and begin to hear him speaking to you personally ..becoming your true Father and loving King and his presence will beautify your life.
V32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.
The kingdom is a catch all term for all the blessings of the rule of God, established and beginning to be restored through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
brings us to final antidote for greed
- A new priority … for your money
V31 seek the Kingdom
Seek the establishment of God’s just and perfect reign – so - the establishment of justice, the poor fed, the downtrodden lifted up, the good news of Jesus proclaimed.
In practice that means v33 radical generosity with our money and resources for the sake of the materially and spiritually poor Sell your possessions and give to the poor. A new priority
Sell your possessions and give.
It’s worth bearing in mind that this isn’t a blanket command. Jesus doesn’t say sell all your possessions. In his culture where there were no banks or share portfolios you held your wealth in your possessions. The only way to free up some cash was to sell some possessions. So Jesus is saying liquidate some of that stored up wealth for the sake of the poor. Decide to live to a lower standard, to go without so that you might use some of what God has given to you to give to what matters to him. That is what it means in v21 to be rich towards God.
Do not be afraid Jesus says, to give it away.
Do not be afraid to give it away.
And then Jesus gives us two further and final motivations for fearless generous giving.
1. The experience of God’s grace.
Notice the order of vv31 and 32. Jesus doesn’t say if you sell your possessions and give to the poor then you’ll be given the kingdom. No, he says You have been given the kingdom. Therefore don’t be afraid to give away.
This is what makes christianity to every other religion. Every religion says do good things and God will accept you, forgive you. Christianity says: you could never be good enough and so You have been gifted everything by God – all the Kingdom is yours because Jesus – though he was rich beyond all measure yet for loves sake he became poor. On the Cross he sold everything, he liquidated all his assets to give to the poor to pay for our sins by his death. He became poor that we might be rich.
If you knew that, if you knew that you are that loved, that treasured by the God who made you. Then your money wouldn’t need to be your security, your possessions wouldn’t need to be your beauty. Your money would just be money.
Well look -if you’re a Christian here in Christ you ARE secure and approved in the beloved Jesus Christ therefore don’t be afraid to give it away. God’s grace motivates us to give… That’s why some of the greatest works of generosity and benevolence in history have been those of Christians - the establishment of the first hospitals, hospices, free schools, the reform of prisons and slavery. all the works of Christians - not trying to earn God’s favour but safe in God’s favour they were not afraid to give it away.
And this liberating life changing relationship with the King is freely given to all. His arms are outsrtetched
we are motivated to give by the experience of God’s grace
And finally – we are motivated to give because of
2. The certain investment
not all storing up of treasure is foolish. In these troubled financial times there is one absolutely secure place to invest your money - not property, not bitcoins, not gold
v33 Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
Jesus says, heaven is a place now - where you can store up treasure now, to collect in an eternal future. That treasure (and i’m not entirely sure what it is but i know that it’s good - relationship with God and others, character in you. This heavenly treasure, unlike earthly treasure, is eternally secure. Nothing wears out in heaven, there are no stockmarket crashes, there are no moths (we have moths inour jumpers!) and the thieves in heaven? – they’re all changed characters – they don’t break in and steal.
In terms of where to invest your money now it’s a no brainer. Use what God has given you, as much as you can spare to give to the things that matter to God. Be rich towards God.
My pounds can still just about buy sony, Versace, sundrenched beaches, stella artois and steak to satisfy my soul. But equivalent pounds can also work the miracle of sight for the blind, food that will cause the starving to live, shelter for the homeless,a bible for a Chinese Christian, or bring the saving message of Jesus to people perishing without God.
And so we pray for the help of the Holy Spirit that we would be so satisfied in Jesus Christ and so secure in his love that our money would be just money; that we wouldn’t be fools who accumulate treasure here or spend it all on ourselves. Instead we would use our money to seek the Kingdom. To Store up treasure in heaven.
i end with this:
In 250AD during the time of the great persecution in Rome, the Roman Prefect burst into a church service and demanded, ‘Show me your treasures.’ They had come to confiscate everything of value. A deacon of the church called Laurentius showed the Prefect to an adjoining room. “These are our Treasures” he said and opened the door to reveal a group of widows, orphans, sick and poor people being cared for by members of the church.
These are our treasures.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.