If you do not read these in sequence, then you might do well to go back and read “The Rich Man and Lazarus” (chapter 33). In that chapter, I shared something about rich men and Hell.
Once again, this is a scary subject for rich men. In Luke 12:16-21 a parable was recorded which said:
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully, and he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 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, 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.”’ 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?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21)
In verse 21, I think we have the theme and the summary of this parable. Let us read that again. “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
Elsewhere, Jesus said that we are not to lay up treasures on earth where rust can destroy it, thieves can break in and it can corrode. We are instead to lay up treasures in Heaven where the moths, rust and thieves will not get at it. (Matthew 6:19-20)
What is this treasure in Heaven compared to treasure on earth? Treasure in Heaven is having an intimate relationship with God, allowing Him to work in you and through you, furthering His Kingdom purpose here on earth through the talents and gifting He has given you. This kind of treasure will not corrode and cannot rust. Treasure in Heaven might also be buying a copy of the book, “The Parables of Jesus Made Simple,” and giving it to friends of yours who need to walk in a more disciplined and more fulfilling Christian life. Laying up treasure in Heaven can be giving to the poor or responding to the Holy Spirit when He prompts you to speak to someone about Him.
You do not have to be rich toward God. God does not need your money. Many people have a problem with giving their money to God. It is a fact that people spend more on entertainment each week than they give to God. They spend about four times more on Christian resources. I forgot what the figure is, but it is very disappointing. They are quite happy to spend money on Christian resources, but they are not as quick to give to the Gospel. They come to church with just change in their pockets for the offering plate. If they knew God’s book-keeping principles, they would want to give God as much as they could! But this is a lesson that God teaches when we give by faith in His goodness!
This parable is pretty simple: it doesn’t need much explanation. Many people just assume that this is a parable about someone who lived about two thousand years ago, who harvested a bumper crops and stored it up. He then just partied by eating, drinking and playing. That is the lifestyle of many people in this world. They work Monday to Friday. On Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, they go drink, have fun and forget about their working week.
It says in Scripture that in the “last days,” people will be partying, given in marriage and being married just like they were before the judgment came in Noah’s day. Life will be going on just as it has always done!
There is nothing wrong with drinking and such. I don’t feel that Jesus would have turned water into wine if that was the case. I think the issue was more spending money and time doing things that did not profit the Kingdom of God. I think that Jesus took issue with people spending their time and resources on things that were not helping their fellow man in love, but continually indulged in things to satisfy their own self-centeredness.
There is tremendous weight to this parable if you understand it. It is a sobering thought that you could live a godless life on earth, enjoying your hard earned riches, by spending your time in frivolous things with no though of tomorrow: just enjoying life - and then one day, end up in eternal flames.
In the previous chapter we saw that the rich man was in torment and wanted Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool his burning tongue. Imagine suffering so much that a drop of water was going to bring you great comfort!
I have trouble with this subject. I have read Mary K Baxter’s “A Divine Revelation of Hell.” If it is true that Hell is really burning now, just like Jesus said in that parable—if it is true that it is so hot that just a drip of water will relieve you—then, that is not a place you want your friends to go to. That is not a place you want to end up going to. It should not be a place that you would want anyone to go to.
Believe me. A life of buying new iPods, new High Definition TVs, the best of brands and the best of breed, the brightest, the flashiest and the newest things coming out on the market—always updating your iPhone into an iPhone 4 and so on—living this extravagant Western lifestyle—means that people who need money to minister to the poor, the broken and the lost in the Third World, and even in our own Western countries do not have the money and the resources to save these people. There are people leaving the earth and going into eternal flame and suffering. Many of these people would not suffer if there had been resources to help them.
I am not here to bring condemnation and shame to the readers, but I need to give a serious wake up call that people are suffering when you do not give.
I feel compelled to speak about this compassion, which draws money out. If you have compassion, your attitude towards money and giving to the Lord is wide open. If you do not have compassion, mercy and the love of God flowing in you, you will be very tight fisted with your money for the Lord and His work. That is really what verse 21 says:
“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
So treasure is not just about stocks and bonds. I have been told that most Americans could not live two or three weeks without an income and enough money in the bank. Treasure, in the West includes owning a house, having a brand new car, having expensive things that you buy on credit, the newest brands, and the latest gadgets and so on. For them, that is all the treasure.
We live in a “throw away” and an “instant society” society in the west. People have the mind-set, “try-before-you-buy” mentality. Couples live together before committing to marriage. Even Christian couples don’t seem to see this as “fornication.” Or they marry but if they are not happy, they simply move on and try someone else. Commitment is an old fashioned idea these days. Happiness is the twenty-first century word! Even products we buy today are not designed to last because the manufacturer wants them to have a short life expectancy so you will buy their updated version.
In our parent’s day people were happy to have a modest two-three bedroom cottage and saved for each piece of furniture, but today youngsters expect to live in lavish four bedroom homes, 2 bathrooms, an office and sundeck. Then go and buy a whole house full of furniture on credit. We are money mad and credit is our accepted resource. There is so much danger in this mentality.
But even if you do have money in the bank in the end, this will not guarantee happiness. When we are rich spiritually, we will have abundance in all the good things in life, including material possessions. Pat of living an abundant life is having enough for your own needs, plus having enough to help someone less fortunate. That is God’s heart! He doesn’t want His own kids to be scrimping and saving to make ends meet.
God loves to bless His children and it is a myth that is perpetuated by the world, that Christians should be in poverty lest people should think that we are selfish or not giving enough to the poor. A lot of aspersion is cast upon Pastors if they have a new car, or live in a nice home: the world would rather that Christians live modestly. There is suspicion otherwise.
But Jesus isn’t saying that Christians should be poor. What He is saying in this parable is that we need to watch our attitude towards money and the things of this world. It says in Matthew 6:21 that, “Where your treasure is, there you heart will be also.”
If we allow money and the material things of this world to dominate our thoughts and the focus of our lives, we end up idolizing those things, and our hearts will be geared towards the pursuit of those things. The famous Scripture, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), is clear that it is the love of money that is a root of all kinds of evil, not the money itself. Having money is not the problem, but our attitude towards it can become a problem. We need to regard our finances as a tool that we are being stewards of for the Lord. Rather than becoming possessive about our money and allowing the world to dictate what we spend it on, let us instead allow God to move us in how we spend our money, which is ultimately His anyway because He gave it to us. People say “what I do with my money is my business!” Just remember, it is God who gave you the intellect, the physical capacity to do things, and the mental drive to reach your goal, which enabled you to get a job in the first place. Many people don’t have these things: they were born with disabilities or have had no positive input into their life.
There is a real joy in giving and in knowing that people are blessed. I pray that this parable has put money and the Worlds “treasure” into perspective and that as you put Heavenly treasures first in your life, you will know what it is to live in abundance.
Jesus promised us: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
When God’s priority, becomes our priority, we will not be able to contain all the blessings He will shower upon us. God is an extravagant God! He said in Ephesians 3:20 that “He is able to bless us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
What is your imagination like? Do you dream great dreams? God can do all that and more!