November 5, 2017
Luke 12:15-21; John 14:27; Galatians 5:7; 2 Timothy 1:7; Titus 3:5-7; Proverbs 3:9-10
Jack was a 70-year-old man, extremely wealthy and a widower. One day he showed up at the country club with an absolutely gorgeous and breathtakingly beautiful 25-year-old brunette. She was hanging on to his arm and listening intently to his every word. His usual golf buddies stood amazed. Wide eyed. They sat down and began chatting and having their usual drinks. Sometime later, the woman excused herself to the rest room. As soon as she was out of sight all of one of Jack’s buddies asked what was on all of their minds. “How did you get a 25-year-old gorgeous girlfriend?” Jack said, “Girlfriend? She’s not my girlfriend. She’s my wife. We got married over the weekend.” Everyone’s eyes widened a bit in shock, and they asked, “So how did you talk her into marrying you?” “I lied about my age.” Jack replied. “What?” They asked, “Did you tell her you were only 50?” Jack smiled and said, “Nope, I told her I was 90.”
I think we’d all agree that the woman was greedy. She loved money so much that she was willing to marry a man 55 years older than she was. In fact, she thought he was 75 years older than she was. Why? Because he had money. With all the money Jack had she could have whatever she wanted and as much as she wanted. She loved wealth and wanted more of it.
We are in week two of our sermon series called the good life. Last week we looked at how the good life is a generous life. We looked at how Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. That’s the good life; a generous life. What is going to get in the way of the good life? Greed.
In our connect group on Tuesday nights we are reading a book called “Counterfeit Gods” by Timothy Keller. Keller points out in that book that no one ever thinks they are greedy. We see greed in everyone else, like that 25-year-old, but not us. We don’t struggle with that. That’s because we often think greed as needing and wanting to have more. Loving money so much and just needing more of it. But greed is more than that. And that’s what we see in the story Jesus told in Luke 12.
Jesus was in the middle of teaching the people when all of a sudden a man from the crowd yells out, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus looked at him and said, “Who appointed me judge or an arbiter between the two of you.” And then Jesus takes the opportunity to teach everyone a lesson on greed.
15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
After thinking a little while about it, he came up with a genius business move.
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.
Smart right? Hey, you’ve been blessed with this crop. Make sure you can store it. Now is there anything wrong with that? No. That’s smart business. Let’s be clear: having money isn’t bad. Being wealthy isn’t a sin. This man building this barn so that he could store more wasn’t the problem. God is the one blessing his crops. But here is where the rich man gets into trouble…
19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
Now we look at this guy and we think, “Man, this guy must not have believed in God.” We aren’t told either way. But do you think a Christian could fall into this thinking? For all we know this man was. He could have recognized God’s good gifts in his life. He could have sat back and said, “All of this is from you God. Thank you.” So what was the man’s problem? He looked to money to provide for the things only God can provide. In other words, he had two gods. The true God who gives him his wealth, but the ultimate god he had is his wealth. The scary thing is that this man probably didn’t wake up one-day thinking, “Today, I’m going to replace God with money.” See, greed works slowly, and slowly begins to get you to believe the promises money makes to you. That’s how this man got to this point. He ended up believing four promises that money made to him.
Security – Money promises security. And that’s what the man believed right? He believed this money gave him a secure future. In fact, he said, “I’ll say to myself, ‘you have plenty of grain and good things laid up for many years. Relax.” “Soul, relax. Be at peace knowing that your future is secure. Look out back. Check out the barn filled with good things. Relax. No need to worry.”
We’ve said it before, times change, people don’t. We still find security in our bank accounts, don’t we? I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but there’s a billboard on I-35 in Austin, kind of by UT’s campus, it says, “Do you have a good relationship with your bank account?” What’s the point of it? Put money in there. Why? Because the more money we have in there the more secure we are. And unfortunately it’s true. Have you ever had an unexpected payment that cost more than your emergency fund had in it? What happens to your heart in that situation? You start to get a little anxious right? That’s because our heart has believed the promise that money tells us. We believe that the more money we have in there, the more secure we are. All of a sudden, we are in the same spot as this rich man. Finding security in our bank account and replacing God with money.
Freedom– We see the man buy money’s lie on this one too right? He had extreme wealth now and what did he say to himself? “Eat, drink, and be merry.” Freedom, baby! He could enjoy life and have whatever he wanted because he had wealth. He had the freedom to spend, spend, spend. He could go on vacation, he could buy the newest technology, he could eat at the most expensive markets around. He was free to do what he wanted. Money promises that you are free to have whatever you want.
But do you think he was free from wanting? He purchased the latest and hottest thing but shortly something new would come out. He’d want that too. He could do whatever he wanted. He was free to do whatever. But he wasn’t free to be content.
Power- With money and wealth comes power. This man instantly gained power in his town. He could bribe whomever he wanted. He could use his wealth to get his way in the political world. Money brings power as you can get yourself out of jams and get your will done. Look at politicians today. Everyone in politics has money. And when they are in a jam, they use their money to make the problem go away. Money promises power.
Significance- Money promises that when you have it, then you’ve made yourself into something. Then you are significant. People look up to you. People come to you for advice. People want you around. And it promises that you can leave your mark on the world. That is significant. As wealthy as this man was, he probably had the whole town coming to him for grain. He probably felt that the whole town rested on his shoulders. He was the backbone and that’s significance. These are the promises money makes, but listen to how Jesus ends the story.
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Money promises a lot, but it can never deliver. Sure, in this life it might, but what happens when you die and stand before God? Your money doesn’t give you security then. Your money doesn’t give you the freedom to enter heaven. It doesn’t give you power over God. He can’t be bribed. Your large bank account won’t give you any significance when you stand before God. Know why? Money can’t pay for sins. You can’t have enough to be free of it. You can’t have enough to have power over God. Money promises a lot of things, but can’t fulfill any of its promises. So, let’s make a deal this morning. Let’s stop looking to money for what only God can provide.
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Soul, relax. Not because you’ve done anything. Not because of the stuff you’ve saved and the wealth you’ve made, but because your Savior, Jesus, became poor that you might be rich. Because he gave up all the riches of heaven to come and live as a human. And it’s here he lived, and it’s here that he died without a penny to his name. Why? So that you, Soul, can have the riches of heaven. So you can have forgiveness, eternal life, and peace. Peace knowing that your future is secured in heaven. Peace knowing that no matter what catastrophe comes, your God loves you and your name is written in heaven. Peace knowing that there is more to life than this life you live. There’s a life waiting for you, and the riches of God’s kingdom awaits you. Peace knowing that in this life, you have a Father in heaven providing for all of your needs no matter what comes. That’s peace money can’t deliver, but only God can.
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
God delivers true freedom. Freedom from the desire to need and want more, but free to be content because in Christ we have all things. We are free the burden of the law. We are free from having to earn our way to heaven. Isn’t it great to know the pressure is off of you to earn heaven? Jesus has done that for you. In Jesus, we are free from having to live up the unrealistic expectations this world puts on us. We are free to be vulnerable and not have it all together because we have a Savior who has everything together for us. We have a Savior who was perfect in our place. We have a Savior who loves us and frees us to live a life for him and no one else.
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power,love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7
Because of Jesus, you aren’t a wimp. Because Jesus lives in you, you have the power to say no to sin. You have the power to push back the gates of hell as you talk about Jesus. You have the power to forgive and not worry about getting revenge or making sure you get what’s yours. And if you truly want to see power, preach God’s Word and watch as someone’s life changes as faith is created. Think about it. God has given you power over the rulers of darkness. That is power money can’t buy.
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Baby Henry could grow up and do great things. He could grow up and become a millionaire. He could go down in the record books by inventing something or discovering something. But big deal. Sorry, Eric and Lori, but honest big deal. Those things are not where his significance comes from. Henry is significant because the God of the world said, “I love you.” And he sent Jesus to save him. And today, God showed how significant Henry is to him by adopting him into his family.
The amazing thing about our God is that fact is true for each and every one of you. The God of this world said, “I love you. I want you to be my child.” And so he sent Jesus to die for all of your sins. To save you. And then he adopted you into his family in your baptism, and he made you his heir. He wrote your name in his will. You want to talk about rich? God is the God of the world, and he’s made you his heir. You are going to inherit everything that God owns: heaven and earth alike all of God’s kingdom. All because of Jesus. God’s riches of forgiveness, eternal life, peace and his Kingdom are going to last forever. It’ll never end and he’s given all this wealth to you.
When you put it that way, why would we ever look to wealth to do what only God can do? We wouldn’t. So, how do we respond to God’s grace?
I will give my first and best to God, trusting that he will bless the rest.
God never once gave you his leftover love. He has always given us his best. It’s that love that motivates us to give God our best.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
First fruits mean that I get my paycheck and the first check I write is to God. As we do that, God guards our hearts against greed. Not only that, but think of the peace, the freedom, the power, and the significance that God has given you. When you give your first fruits to God, you give that gift to someone else. What a privilege it is to live the good life loving and trusting in God.