The Fool and His Money
Topic: Love of Money Verse: Luke 12:22–12:34
Theme: The cost of greed impoverishes the soul.
Introduction: How a person views their money is a barometer of their spirituality. Like the issue of hypocrisy, materialism, covetousness, and greed expose a heart that is idolatrous. Jesus declared that it is impossible to serve God and money – Matthew 6:24.
The righteous are so devout to the Lord God, that their perspective toward money is that it is a threat to their singular focus upon the Lord – a necessary part of life, but a lousy god to serve – cp. Proverbs 30:8-9.
Jesus takes His denunciation toward hypocrisy – which relates to self-worship in the spiritual realm and advances it even more practically to greed – which relates to self-worship in the material realm.
The basic symptom of greed or materialism is the notion that you cannot have enough money. The demonstration of a godly perspective toward money is one of contentment. It is not wrong to be wealthy from hard work, wise investments, or inheritance. But one begins to love being wealthy and considers wealth as the means to fulfillment, one becomes an idolater, plunging themselves into a downward spiral of misery and many snares – 1 Timothy 6:9.
I. The Demonstration of a Greedy Heart – 12:13-14
A. The Distraction of Materialism – v. 13
- In our text, Jesus is in the middle of a tense confrontation with a largely hostile crowd – laying open the problem of legalism and hypocrisy.
- He had engaged the most powerful sect of organized religion by casting a curse upon the Pharisees and then had warned the general population that each of them had to “watch out” that they are not corrupted by the “leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1b).
- In the midst of his deeply theological treatment of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and the obligation to honor the Trinity, Jesus is remarkably interrupted – “Someone in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
- This man was disinterested in the “impractical” teachings by Jesus and wanted to have his “problem” addressed by Christ – a selfish and indulgent approach to the ministry of Jesus.
- Since he asked Jesus to “tell my brother,” it is apparent that both of the brothers were present and the man wanted Jesus to “fix” his brother.
- Nothing is said of the situation – the particulars of the “family inheritance,” a matter that can become very complicated – cp. Numbers 27:7-11.
- The problem with this man is that his concern about what he was going to “get” from the “family inheritance” was of such importance that He would call out his brother in front of such a large crowd and in interruption of Jesus’ teachings.
- Do you find that your concerns about money distract you from the teaching of God's Word?
B. The Disinterest in Materialism – v. 14
- Jesus replies to this man with a blatant dismissal – “But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’”
- Jesus use of the term “Man” is comparable to the modern term “mister” and is represents not respect, but unfamiliarity.
- Despite the fact that the Father had committed all judgment to the Son – John 5:22, 27 – Jesus wasn’t interested in the mundane squabbles about temporal, money matters.
- Jesus came to enrich a man in terms of reconciling him to God, not to enrich a man with property and wealth.
- Jesus sees this situation as a perfect time to address a matter that is as damaging to a person’s relationship with God as hypocrisy – the matter of greed or covetousness.
- As we will see, your greed causes you to obsess over what you do not have so much that you become ungrateful for what you do have – and ingratitude is the basis for base desires.
Do you find that your concerns about money distract you from the teaching of God's Word?
How does becoming upset by what you do not have influence your gratitude for what you do have?
How should Jesus’ disinterest in this man’s material interest inform your own priorities?
II. The Deception of a Greedy Heart – 12:15
A. The Warning about Materialism
- In a statement that follows the same pattern as Jesus warning in v. 1, “He said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed …”
- Notice that he transitions from the individual man, and “He said to them …” – demonstrating a matter that He was willing to hand down a verdict on – the issue of the sin of greed.
- “Beware” [ὁράω] – to perceive with the eye – to be alert or attentive and it is intensified by the additional – “be on your guard against.”
- “guard” [φυλάσσω] – refers to protect by taking careful measure to avoid and describes the person who sees danger and takes action to avoid – cp. Proverbs 27:12.
- He then says that what is such a threat is “every form of greed” (or covetousness) [πλεονεξία] – the state of desiring to have more than one’s due, greediness, insatiableness – cp. Ecclesiastes 5:10.
- Jesus is referring to the idolatry of worshiping what is created instead of the Creator – Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5.
- The ingratitude toward the Creator and the idolatry of what is created is the formula for absolute disaster – 1 Timothy 6:9-10.
B. The Worthlessness of Materialism
- Jesus continues by declaring the reason that we have to be careful about greed: the delusion of what it means to “have stuff” – “… for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
- The idea of “abundance” [περισσεύω] – conveys the idea of “having more than enough” or “surplus.”
- Real “life” is independent of what you have – “life” [ζωή] – is not the word bios, but zōē – and refers to the meaningful life, eternal life – emphasizing that “stuff” will not help you in eternity – cp. 1 Timothy 6:6-7; Ecclesiastes 5:15.
Consider: How does greed parallel the sin of hypocrisy, what links the two sins?
Why are you never satisfied when you idolize possessions?
What determines whether having an “abundance” is wrong?
III. The Denunciation of a Greedy Heart – 12:16-21
A. The Example of Greed – vv. 16-20
- Jesus provides an example of greed through a parable of a rich man.
- It is necessary to clarify that wealth is not the problem – it is rather the love of wealth that causes the problem.
- The parable is a simple, very relatable account that everyone can apply – “And He told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man was very productive” – demonstrating an honest scenario of blessing and profit.
- Instead of demonstrating gratitude to the Lord for the blessing of a bumper crop, the man “… began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’”
- He didn’t want to simply sell it all, since it would cause the market to be flooded and drive down the prices and result in a net loss.
- So, he said that he would ensure that he could continue to sell at the highest prices – “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.’”
- He was angling for how he could maximize his own welfare – even at the expense of others with whom he might be able to be a blessing – “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’”
- He was so very blatantly selfish – avoiding some of the social responsibility – relieving the plight of the poor, or spiritual responsibility - supporting the work of the Lord.
- It was all about making himself at ease for life and such a spirit is immediately confronted – “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you, and now who will own what you have prepared?’”
- In the midst of his boasting in his arrogance, he fails to recognize that everything that he has is not a result of his own achievement, but is stewardship granted generously to him from God – cp. James 4:13-16.
- This man had worked very hard to make the best of a temporary, earthly existence, but had neglected to do a single thing to prepare for the eternal, heavenly existence – cp. Matthew 6:19-21, 33.
B. The Exposure of Greed – v. 21
- Hence, Jesus exposes the problem with greed – “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
- This man clearly loved himself and not God and worshiped material possessions (creations) and not God (Creator).
- Clearly, this man ought to have used what God had given to him through his productivity for the glory of God and the advancement of the Kingdom of God instead of his own glory and advancement.
Why do you think Jesus indicted this man’s financial planning?
Does this mean that all financial planning is wrong?
What makes you “rich toward God?”