How to Be Spiritually Rich

Grain Fields

A sermon idea based on Luke 12:13-21.

Luke 12:13-21 NRSV

[13] Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” [14] But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” [15] And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” [16] Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. [17] And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ [18] Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. [19] And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ [20] But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ [21] So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”

Angle

The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…

Jesus teaches us that you can be “rich” by accumulating material possessions, but spiritually poor. There is more to life than having more stuff.

Anchor

Information about the text that matters to the message…

It’s important to note, right from the start, that Jesus isn’t condemning owning things. There is a strong argument that Jesus’ teachings certainly should motivate us to stop accumulating extra while others are still in need, but that isn’t the focus of this particular passage.

Jesus gets a teaching request from the crowd. “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” The request, itself, doesn’t seem all that problematic. The individual is just asking for fairness. But Jesus knows the heart, and what Jesus detects in the heart of the one speaking is greed.

And in Jesus’ response to the greed he perceives in the request, he utters one of the most profound statements ever spoken:

“One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

Every Sunday, millions of people gather in church buildings all over America (where I live), and we press upon the preacher a high demand for messages about all the evil we see around us in the world, outside of ourselves. We yearn for a feeling of safety in a community of like-minded people who are willing to lock arms with us against the rest of the world.

And Jesus, in this passage, skirts right around the request to target others with his teachings and speaks right to the heart of the struggle within this gathered congregation. And that struggle was greed, a sin still all too common in most developed nations today, even among followers of Jesus.

The truth is, when we find security and/or significance in the possessions we’ve collected, we’re spiritually poor.

But when we enter into and grow deeper in our connection with God and his eternal vision for our lives and for the world, we become spiritually rich, even if we have nothing materially.

Application

The big call-to-action in the message…

Ask yourself, where do your security and your significance come from? Your accumulated financial wealth? Or God’s eternal vision for your life?


About the Cover Art: Evans, Edwin, 1844-1923. Grain Fields, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

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