Storing up our riches in heaven

In these days of economic turbulence and uncertainty, it would do us all well to reflect on the words of Jesus as found in Luke 12:15.

Pastor Norm Dibben

Ponoka Alliance Church:

In these days of economic turbulence and uncertainty, it would do us all well to reflect on the words of Jesus as found in Luke 12:15.

“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Jesus spoke these words when a man came to him complaining that he felt his brother was not being fair with him in regard to the inheritance. He came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus was not about to get into a family dispute, but He did use the occasion to teach a lesson on greed. He said, “Watch out!” Be on your guard against all kinds of greed,” and then he added, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Whatever wealth and possessions this man that came to Jesus already had, it seemed clear that he wanted more. That seems to be the attitude of most people. We would be satisfied, and we would be content if we just had a little bit or a whole lot more than what we already have. The problem with this man was that he was selfish and self-centered. The big “I” blocked the SON and he was left in his SIN.

God’s plan of salvation was standing before this man, yet the man was in danger of judgment in that he was more interested in material possessions that in being rich toward God. Today many people are like that and many professing Christians are like that. With their mouths they say they are Christian yet, by their actions, they show that material things and the things of this world are much more important. By their actions they are rejecting God’s salvation and are thus in danger of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. How we live is a dead giveaway as to what we really believe.

To explain what He was saying to this man, Jesus used a parable. He spoke of a rich man who just kept on getting richer. He actually had so much he didn’t know what to do with it all. But one thing seemed to be very clear. It was his and he would keep it! The problem was that he was self-centered and not God-centered.

As this rich man was contemplating what to do with his wealth, we read that he went on an emotional rollercoaster. First he was glad. His land had produced many good crops and the latest was proving to be a bumper crop. He just knew he was going to be well off for the rest of his days. He was going to have a good life and so he was glad.

But then we can just see him going from being glad to being very mad! In vs. 20 God speaks to him and says He has others plans for him. “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”

With the accumulation of wealth this man realized he could control many things. But now he discovers he cannot control the most important things of life. He cannot control when he will die! He is not so clever after all! In fact, he wasn’t very smart at all. He was going to die that night and would have nothing and he would have nothing because he foolishly did not store up things for God.

With the accumulation of wealth this man realized he could control many things. But now he discovers he cannot control the most important things of life. He cannot control when he will die! He is not so clever after all! In fact, he wasn’t very smart at all. He was going to die that night and would have nothing and he would have nothing because he foolishly did not store up things for God.

After being mad for awhile we can next picture him as being very sad. How sad to realize that he had essentially wasted his life! He had put all his efforts in the wrong places. God had blessed him with much, but instead of giving back to God, instead of having an open hand and a generous heart, he foolishly kept everything for himself and gave no thought as to why God may have been so good to him. While he had spent much of his time preparing for himself and his selfish pleasures and enjoyment, he had foolishly neglected to prepare for death and for the day he would have to stand before God his Maker.

As this poor rich man continued on his emotional rollercoaster, he went from being glad, to mad, to sad and then to horrible realization that he had been had! He thought he knew what was really important in life. ‘Everybody’ was pursuing what he had been pursuing. He just happened to be one of the lucky ones that made it to the top. Or maybe he wasn’t so lucky after all! “To whom much has been given, much shall be required.” This man proved to be dirt floor poor before God. He had been had by the lies and deceitfulness of riches. He had believed that the good life was found in the riches of this life. He thought the more he could acquire the happier he would be. He foolishly left God out of life altogether and forgot all about the face that everything he had was lent to him by God who would one day ask for an accounting.

Jesus concludes the parable by saying, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” In the mad pursuit to make a living, to get ahead, to “have enough”, to be able to retire “comfortably”, it would do us all well to reflect on the words of Jesus. We may or may not do well materially in life, but everyone has the opportunity to be rich toward God. If we have a self-centered focus in life, we will end up with absolutely nothing, like the rich man in Jesus’ story. However, if God has His rightful place in our lives, we may or may not have much of this world’s goods but we will have treasure in heaven. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things (all the necessities of life) will be given to you as well,” Matthew 6:33.

As we acknowledge that this life is but a speck in light of eternity, we would do well to re-check our values and our priorities. Jesus said in Matthew 16:26, “What good will be it for a man if he gains the world, yet forfeits his soul?” Some people today want all references to God removed from our institutions and indeed from life. God can be denied or ignored, but that does not chance the fact that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrew 11:6). People that want riches that will last would do well to seek the Lord while He may be found. We do not want to be like the rich man in the parable of Jesus who discovered too late that he had been had and ended up with nothing. When God has His rightful place in our life, we can go through the ups and downs of life with a quiet confidence that we can never lose that which is most important and indeed eternal.

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