Sermon for Sunday, 08/04/2019
Text: Luke 12:13-21
Theme: “Enlarge Your Space”
One subject most of us pastors shy away from is the issue of money and wealth, but it might surprise you to know that Jesus talks about money and possessions in the Bible more than he talks about subjects like faith and prayer. For example, sixteen of his thirty-eight parables in Gospel are about money and possessions and how we ought to handle them. The gospel reading this morning is just one of those teachings.
It seems Jesus is teaching, when someone in the crowd said, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” The text does not say which subject Jesus was teaching on, but whatever it was, this is what the man’s mind was preoccupied with. He wanted his fair share of the family estate. But Jesus refused to get in the middle of a family dispute, because such matters can be dicey at times. But out of that request came the opportunity for Jesus to lay down, what we, his followers’ attitude should be towards money and possession.
Jesus’ response to the man was, “who made me a judge over you? Then he warned the crowd and all of us. “Watch and guide yourself against the spirit which is always wanting more; for even if a man has an abundance, his life does not come from his possession. Our lives are not defined by how much we own, even when you own a lot.” There is no doubt that money and possession/wealth can enhance the quality of life, but they don’t define the essence of life. This also means that the essence of life of those who don’t have much, or the poor and needy, is not diminished by their lack.
Jesus then told this familiar parable about a man whose farm produced an abundance of crops. The man said himself, “what will I do? I have no space to store all my crops. Here is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I will store all my grains and my goods. And I will say to myself, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for you for many years. Relax, eat and drink. “
In this parable, Jesus refers to this man as a rich fool. And let me stress that Christ did not denigrate him because of his wealth. It is not ungodly to be rich, if we labor honestly and obtain our wealth. And there is no indication in this passage that this man’s wealth was ill-gotten. He must have been an honest and hard-working man, just like most, if not all of us. This was his American dream.
But even the reward of our honest labor can be mishandled to God’s displeasure. This man failed to realize that every good and perfect gift comes from the LORD. God is the giver of abundance. In Deut. 8:18, Moses tells the Israelites, “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth.”
Through Moses’ words, we are reminded that God blesses us with abundance so we can remember him and invest in his kingdom. Well, some of us may say “But I am not wealthy. I am just getting-by. To this, let me quote Warren Wiersebe, an American biblical commentator, who writes, “measured by the living standard of the rest of the world, most believers in America are indeed wealthy people.” And this is something I can attest to.
An important lesson of this text is that each of us ought to acknowledge God’s blessing for all He has given us. We should not be like this man who failed to do so. In all that he said, there is no mention of God, nor his neighbors nor his community. His only concern was to create enough space for his goods. Life was just about himself.
The fact that you are here this morning indicates that you have space for God, but how much is that space? How narrow or large is our space for God, compared to the space we have and continue to create for the things God has given us. How much of our time, service or resources do we commit to the One who has given us everything? This is a question for me as well as a question for you. Maybe, and just maybe, if we take up a little time to soberly reflect on it, we might realize that our space for God is very small, and we might see the need to enlarge our space for Him, by serving just a little more, or worshipping him just a little more, or giving just a little more. God may be calling you to enlarge your space for him.
The final point I want to make is that this man felt so secured in his possessions and wealth. We hear this in words, “And I will say to myself, soul, you have ample goods laid up for you for many years. Relax, eat drink and be merry.” This guy feels so assured by his many stuff that he even determines how long he is going to live: many years.
This is serious temptation for us in this society as well. Sometimes we come too much to rely on our many possessions and overlook the fact that our lives are ultimately dependent on the will of God. Each day you and I walk and drive with some degree of unpredictability and vulnerability. We see that right in this text.
While this man was making all those elaborate plans without God, that very night, God said to him, give me back my life. This is a reminder that life is not just about us. It’s not just about our pleasure and enjoyment as this man thought; we must create space for the giver of our very life and all the accompanying blessings we receive from Him.
Therefore, as we enlarge our space for other things, let’s enlarge our space for God. This goes hand in hand with enlarging our space for our neighbors: the needy the poor, the homeless, etc.
May we invest in God’s Kingdom, through our service to Him and humanity; for this is the only eternal investment we can make.
God bless you.