Online Worship for Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday November 25, 2020
Sermon for Thanksgiving Eve (2008) 2020
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Luke 12:13-21 (NKJV)
13 Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” 15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” 16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
In the Name of Jesus
Who though rich became poor
So we might become truly rich,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in Him --
Do you know how to communicate with someone who talks constantly? It’s really not all that hard, just wait until they take a breath (they have to breathe) and then start talking yourself. It seems that was what the man in the crowd did.
Jesus had been speaking to his disciples on a number of important topics (Luke 12:1-12). Then when He paused, a man called out to him from the crowd standing about Jesus.
Why did He interrupt? Did He have an important spiritual question to ask the Savior? Was he listening to Jesus and wanted to ask a related question? We might wonder if he was listening at all, because he interrupted the LORD with (if we are generous) a request:
“Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
He wanted Jesus to talk to His brother, and tell him to divide the inheritance with him. What I’d like to know is, did he whine and stomp his foot? Why did He ask Jesus? Did he think that Jesus would solve his problem? Did he consider Jesus the ultimate way of pressuring his brother? Whatever his reasons, Jesus replied:
“Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”
Jesus was not an official sent to preside over the division of material goods. He came down from heaven to save mankind from sin and death…not to balance ledger sheets. There were already people in place (Lawyers, Teachers of the Law) to handle such matters. In fact, God had already determined how inherited goods should be divided (Deuteronomy 21:17).
Sadly, it seems that this man was not looking for peace with his brother, but his ‘piece of the pie.’ As is sadly often the case today, problems can arise that divide families when covetousness and greed rule the day.
Jesus took the opportunity to warn His disciples (including us) about the dangers of greed, coveting money and material goods.
This is a timely warning on a day when we survey all that God has richly blessed us with, and give thanks.
He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
Let us remember just who it is who warns us to be on our guard and watch out for all kinds of covetousness. We live in a country where we have everything we need at our fingertips. I heard recently that if you have a full stomach and a roof over your head you are better off than 70% of the people in the world today. We are richly blessed by God in many ways…yet we still want more.
Jesus warns us about desiring things we would have to sin to get.
We need to hear these words because we may be tempted to think that that what we have defines us or makes us who we are! Disagree?
Then let me ask: Do you find yourself wanting things that your close friends and neighbors have? Do you feel you need this or that to fit in some social group? Do you feel you have to have this type of car or that type of clothing? Are we tempted to think that this item or that would make life more complete?
I guess the warning isn’t so far out.
We need to hear these words because we have what we need and we easily forget that everything really belongs to the LORD. When we forget the words of Psalm 24, we set ourselves up for a fall (Psalm 24:1 NIV):
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world,
and all who live in it;
We live because God has given and sustains life. While God uses earthly things to sustain our lives, they dare never take the place of God, who promises much more than this life has to offer. It is for this reason that our Heavenly Father says through the Psalmist (Psalm 62:10b NIV):
…though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
It is also for this same reason that Jesus said:
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.”
In this parable, Jesus begins by presenting greed in its most innocent outward appearance. We would probably look up to the man that Jesus describes. We would call him a good businessman, a successful farmer. We might even wish we were like him…at least outwardly.
Why was he successful? Was it because he was a good manager? Was he detail oriented? Did he pick the right brand of seed? Jesus doesn’t give the man credit…he simply says that his land yielded fruitfully. He was successful because GOD blessed him, causing the sun to shine and the rain to fall. Do we forget? All it takes is one dry year to remember that everything depends on God’s blessing.
Was the man thankful? Did he thank the True God for having given him such bounty? God was far from his thoughts. He had a problem. Listen and see if you hear any thanksgiving:
17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”
Did you hear any thanksgiving? Was there any recognition of God’s provision? Jesus presents the man as he really is within. He speaks as if his crops and goods are his whole life. He must tear down his storehouses and build greater ones – not just so that he can store a bumper crop, but – so that he can also store his goods in one place.
He must defend these things to be certain of his future. He did have great abundance, but he overlooked the fact that even the life he had built for himself was dependant (NOT on the possessions themselves) but on the Will of God.
He proceeded to make plans without any thought of God. He assumed that he would live on and enjoy the wealth he had been given. He boasted to himself that he had many goods and many years to enjoy them. Things don’t always work out as people imagine they will. Why? Our future is not in our hands.
We don’t ever forget that, do we? We don’t ever worry about this bill or that, do we? We don’t worry that we will lose our retirement money in the current economic climate, do we? We aren’t forgetting who is really in control, are we? We would be wise to keep in mind the words of Psalm 37:25:
25 I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
The rich man thought He was in control.
20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
A fool is a person who has no understanding of real value, a person who is not wise or sensible. One would think that we human beings would learn from experience (our own and others) that earthly goods are of no lasting value. If we build our hopes on earthly wealth, then we are truly fools. We will at death relinquish all earthly riches. They cannot be used to barter or buy in the life to come.
All of the material things for which we are thankful today… cannot pay for a single sin, cannot prolong life a single day, cannot acquire (no matter the abundance) a place in heaven.
Shall we sell all we have and become hermits? Is Jesus telling us to do so? He is not; rather, he is telling us that our gathering of earthly things should never get in the way of our obtaining true, lasting spiritual riches like the forgiveness of sins. Fools don’t understand true value. Jesus reminds us where true wisdom, value and riches are to be found when He says (Matthew 6:19-20):
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Our Lord Jesus gave up heavenly riches, in order to live and die and rise again to purchase for us a place in the mansions of Heaven. If He is our greatest treasure, then there is a room with our names written on it. Reason for thanksgiving indeed!
So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
So is he who lays up treasure for himself…that is…he is like the rich fool. This likewise includes those who are not in possession of wealth…but are nevertheless consumed with obtaining it at all cost. It is truly a rare virtue (a gift of God) to be content with what God gives.
Wait, isn’t there more….foolish is the person who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. So is this the place where I tell you that you should give more to the church, that you should be rich toward God? Is that what is meant by this last phrase? Honestly, I thought so…until prayerfully studying this scripture.
What are we being warned against?
What kinds of treasure are being compared here? There are two treasures that are compared: earthly material treasures (like the rich man had in abundance) and heavenly, spiritual treasures (which the rich man considered of less value than his earthly goods).
Jesus is warning us about greed; He’s warning about the temptation to choose earthly wealth over lasting spiritual blessing.
It’s true that those who use their goods to further the Kingdom of God are wise. However, they do so because they have been made rich by God already (not merely with money or goods, but) with the most valuable gift of all, faith which trust in Jesus Christ.
Literally Jesus says: “Thus is the one storing up for himself and not rich in regard to God.” He’s encouraging us to not undervalue the lasting riches that are freely given to us through His sacrifice.
If our hopes are built on Christ, then our futures are secure, whether rich or poor. Thank God that we are rich in blessings from God, and may the Spirit help us always to be thankful for those blessings.