Grace, mercy, and peace be
unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
I have a couple of things I
want you to ponder and think about. The first is this. Everything we truly
have that cannot be taken away from us that is eternal is hidden from
us by God. And everything we think we have, everything that is a part
of this world that will end, is all in plain sight for us to see.
Now you and I believe this
to be true. We believe everything we truly have that will be with us
for eternity is hidden from us by God. It is what we live and walk by faith, trusting Him. But everything we think we have, it is right before
our very eyes and sometimes shoved in our faces.
So if you and I believe this
to be true, why then would God be so desirous of us to hear this parable
this morning? He said it so well when our Lord said, “Take care!
Be on your guard against all kinds of [covetousness] greed; for one’s
life…” meaning your and my life, “…does not consist in
the abundance of possessions.”
Now Jesus brings this parable
to you and to me after someone from the crowd shouts out and says, “Lord,
be the divider of the inheritance between my brother and me.” What
is this man asking for? This man is asking for legalism and law from
Jesus. “Lord, draw that line and cut that thing so it’s 50/50 because
I don’t want my brother to get more than he deserves, and I surely don’t
want to get more than I deserve.”
Yet you know what? I’ve seen
a lot of mothers and fathers with heartache as they died because they
were unsure how their sons or daughters were going to handle the inheritance
after they had died. After they had died and these sons and daughters
of the King were in peace in heaven, battles did begin over the tools
or over the shotguns or over the plates and dishes or over the flatware
or over the chifforobe or the armoire or the dining room set. Now you
know why you and I need to hear such a parable.
In this parable Jesus is not
getting at the great abundance this man received from God. He’s getting
at what this man is going to do with the great abundance from God. Because
all of us can remember he gave Joseph a great command of what to do
with the abundance of those seven years of benefit and blessing. He
said to Joseph, “Store it away because there’s going to be seven
years of leanness where you’re going to have to use that which you’ve
stored away to provide for other people.”
But this man was only looking
at it through his own sin-filled eyes. In fact Jesus makes it very clear
when He says, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully.”
He doesn’t say that the rich man, through his great wisdom, produced
plentifully, but the land, that which this rich man had no power
or control over, produced this. It was a gift very clearly from God.
It’s not as if this man didn’t already have storage bins and silos because
He talked about tearing those down…because they weren’t big enough…and
building bigger ones.
Now you and I don’t struggle
with being wise in this world. Where we struggle is being generous with
our goods because this parable is about our attitude toward God’s gifts
given to us.
This man has centered his entire
life around his earthly wisdom to attain and hold on to earthly goods.
Why else would he sit back and say, “Soul, it is well with thee.”
Why doesn’t he say, “Flesh, you have what you need for the day.
Give it away for tomorrow.”? Because he saw his life completely
through the very visible things we think are really ours and aren’t.
He missed the very eternal things…that are clearly his and will never
be taken away from him if he believed…which are hidden from him.
If our hope is in this life
then accumulation of goods is a good thing, if our hope is in this life.
But if your and my hope is not in this life, then we are at unrest because
our spirit is crying out over and again, “Be content! Be content!”
and our flesh says, “We don’t have enough! We don’t have enough!
What if? What if? What if?”
Everything we truly have that
shall not be taken from us, that is ours because of God’s gracious gift
of faith, His kingdom, is hidden from us, and everything we think we
have, which can be taken from us at a moment’s notice, is in plain sight.
For those of you who weren’t
in Bible class this morning come, next Sunday, a little early to church,
around 9:30, 9:40. Meet us over in fellowship hall. There’s coffee and
there are goodies. The very thing we’re talking about in Bible class
is this Old Testament reading we’re about to unpack from Solomon’s book
of Ecclesiastes. So join us.
End of commercial; back to
Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes,
and especially these texts, is our introduction to how Solomon, who
had the greatest wealth of all, viewed possessions. He talks about it
in the very beginning, “It is an unhappy business that God has
given to the children of man to be busy with.” This busyness of
attaining and accumulating possessions because he goes on, Solomon does…
“Who knows if after being
so wise and so good and so godly in how I’ve attained these possessions
that I have to hand them off to someone else who won’t see things the
way I do and will foolishly misuse all those things I have worried and
have been anxious about, being so wise about how I got them. I have
to give them to someone who may not use them as wisely as I received
He even goes on and talks about
man’s work being a vexation because even in the night his heart doesn’t
rest. He’s thinking. He’s considering things. You tell me. When you’ve
had the worst time trying to sleep it wasn’t always over spiritual matters,
was it not? Most of the time you and I have lost sleep it’s been over
earthly matters. What wretched men we are!
Solomon makes it very clear
what he’s proclaiming is right in line with what Jesus has already proclaimed.
After we go through this parable, the thought before we finally get
the final answer is, Will this man use those
goods wisely? Will he use those the way God intended him
to use those goods? Then as we get to the end of the parable we
realize, No. He doesn’t.
That’s what happens to this
man. What’s going to happen to you? For we are accountable to God for
all the possessions God has given us. God has given us these possessions,
not for the sake of simply providing our daily bread because
He gives us more than what we need for our daily bread. So for what
purpose has He given us these things but to use them for other people.
Sadly this man’s possessions possessed him. What are we going to do
with God’s gifts to us?
Paul said something beautiful
in his epistle reading from Colossians, the very beginning. “If
then you have been raised with Christ…” Stop right there. Get
rid of the word if. Do you believe you’ve been raised with Christ?
All of us do. Then know you have been raised with Christ.
Meaning you are now and you
will continue to be. You have been raised with Christ. Since, because
of, that’s the reason why you’ve been raised with Christ. That’s God’s
greatest gift to you. By believing just in that phrase alone you are
rich. You are wealthy, and that treasure shall not be taken from you.
No matter what you and I fret
about and are anxious about in the night, that shall not be taken from
you because God gives that gift. It’s all the things we can plainly
see God will give and take away. That thing, that gift. It shall not.
It is yours if you believe it, and if so, if that is your true treasure,
if that is your true gift upon which you rest, then seek the things
that are above and not the things that cause us all the worry and fretting
here below. Seek the things that are hidden with Christ in God and not
the things we can see in plain sight. That’s being rich toward God.
When Jesus ends this parable
and proclaims it about this man who was not rich toward God, but was
poorer than anything, so is the one who lays up treasure for himself
and is not rich toward God. You are rich toward God. You have been given
everything in His kingdom. You have been raised with Christ.
To be rich toward God is to
believe that applies to you, but God and Satan will not allow that faith
to stand static. God is going to push you to show yourself. Who cares
if anybody else sees? Show yourself that you believe that to be true
by letting go of those things we wish to control so much we can see
in plain sight and of which we really don’t own, and by our actions,
seek the things that are above, that will never be taken from us, that
God will never remove from us.
But it’s hidden. It’s not in
plain sight. Everything we truly have that will not and cannot be taken
from us that is eternal and everlasting is hidden from us in God, but
everything we think we have that can and will be taken from us…for
that matter has been many times…that’s in plain sight to us all.
This man died a pauper. It
shall not be so with you. In the name of the who has made you rich and
wealthy and full beyond your and my comprehension, Amen.