Jesus is calling us to a radical perspective on our possessions and relationships! Our focus on Christ and his kingdom should be so great that we are willing to forsake all possessions and relationships to please him. Thankfully, God most often times uses our possessions and relationships to build His Kingdom.
One of Christ’s most pointed directives comes to us on the subject of possessions and finances: “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Christ said this directly to a man who asked the Messiah to be the arbiter of his father’s estate. With his father now dead, the man’s brother was refusing to fairly separate the inheritance. As a rabbi, it would have been appropriate for Jesus to moderate a local dispute among fellow Jews. But there was something more important going on. Something of eternal importance was at stake. This man had a covetous heart (Luke 12:13-15).
To warn the young man and the nearby crowd of the damnable dangers of a covetous heart, Christ tells the story of an excessively rich man. In this caricature of covetousness, Jesus reveals the eternal consequences of living for the abundance of things.
You are living for the abundance of things when you do not consider your neighbor. (Luke 12:16-18)
Jesus opens this parable by telling the listener of a rich man who got even richer when the land of this man produced plentifully. What a quandary! This poor fellow has nowhere to store his abundance. Talk about #FirstWorldProbs. Rather than considering the plight of his neighbors in the midst of his exorbitant abundance, this rich man tore down his storage barns to build bigger ones.
Care for neighbor is a common theme in Luke’s gospel. In Luke 10, the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches the believer to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Following this parable are three parables of rich men who fail to do so; all three parables record eternal consequences.
- Luke 12 – The rich man who built bigger barns. This man is called a “Fool” and his soul is required of him.
- Luke 16 – The rich man who faired sumptuously allowed Lazarus to starve right outside his gate. This rich man finds himself in flames after death while Lazarus enjoys the bosom of Abraham.
- Luke 18 – The rich young ruler in Luke 18 was told to sell his possessions and help the poor—his neighbors. We went away sorrowing because he had many possessions.
Let’s get practical. When was the last time you truly cared for your neighbor? I’m not talking about random acts of kindness or paying it forward. These things are great, and if anyone should pay it forward, it should be Christians. But, the contrast of the good Samaritan in Luke 10 who gave abundantly out of his meager supply, and the rich man of Luke 12 who hoarded his great abundance all to himself is startling. We must strive to be more like this Samaritan who went out of his way to help the wounded, hurting, and less fortunate.