Section Three: The Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Three: Trusting God’s Provision.
Our reading for today: Luke 12: 13-21 (MsgB)
Someone out of the crowd said, “Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.” He replied, “Mister, what makes you think it’s any of My business to be a judge or mediator for you?” Speaking to the people, He went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” Then He told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’ “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’ “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”
So…let me ask you. As you read today’s passage (above), where do your thoughts go?
Sadly, over the years, I’ve heard well-meaning pastors preach from this text, telling folks that God truly hates it when we focus our lives on earthly riches, despises the building of storage barns, and punishes those who attempt to store up any wealth in this lifetime. Yet, is that really the point of Jesus’ parable of the prosperous farmer?
I think not.
So as we continue this part of our discipleship journey, focusing on the theme of Trusting God’s Provision, let me state it clearly….
As I see it, there really is nothing inherently wrong with money and resources. Back in the Book of Genesis, we find God, our Creator, actually commanding us to go out into this world, and as good stewards of God’s creation, prosper as we work this bountiful land in order to make a living for both ourselves and our families. As a matter of fact, from a biblical perspective, God is the truest source of all material blessings that come our way!
So, let’s compare today, Jesus’ parable of the rich farmer with yet another biblical example of a highly-successful man with a big number of barns to his name.
Do you remember the story of Joseph and the seven years of abundant harvest found in Genesis 41? Here, we find God’s servant stuck in a place he’d rather not be (in slavery to the house of Pharaoh) suddenly being given the big God-assignment to oversee Pharaoh’s vast properties, serving, so to speak, as Secretary of Agriculture to the nation of Egypt. The Lord had warned Pharaoh through a vivid dream (that only Joseph could interpret) that a severe drought was coming. Joseph was placed in command, with the explicit purpose of preparing the nation for the coming disaster. Isn’t it a good thing that Pharaoh didn’t choose the greedy farmer from Jesus’ parable for the job?
Joseph, you see, was a hard-working, industrious man, just like the prosperous farmer, but there was one key difference that quickly showed itself when the large harvest of crops began to be trucked into the storage silos. One had God’s heart of generosity deep within, while the other had a heart of greed. Thus when the farmer in the Master’s story built new barns to be filled with the great harvest, he was doing so for self-centered purposes; while Joseph, who also ordered the construction of large new barns, did so for the good of the people!
Hmm. Let me say it one other way as we close…
Jesus told His friends about how a small mustard seed of faith can move mountains (see Matthew 17: 20), but apparently, from today’s parable, Jesus is also warning us that it only takes a mustard seed of self to get us into one big heap of trouble!
So…what’s in your barn today?
The seeds of self or the fruits of generosity?
My prayer: Jesus, I hear Your strong warning. A barn, full of blessings, is not a problem…but a barn, full of self, is. Lord, in this world where I’m encouraged to be highly successful with my life, producing as many resources as I possibly can; it’s vitally important that also I hear Your adamant call to generosity with those same blessings You might send my way. Deliver me from self, Oh God, for Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So where, today, am I guilty of greedy thinking and self-centered, self-consumed consumerism? Am I aware of the struggle between selfishness and generosity that rages within me; and which side is prevailing in my heart today?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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