Dr. Chuck DeVane, Pastor
Lake Hamilton Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas
May 6, 2018
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear 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, Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
— Luke 12:13-34, ESV
Ministry and money go hand in hand, even with Christ and Christianity. When Jesus exercised His public ministry, He needed money to provide food, shelter, and clothing for Him and His ministry team. People, particularly godly women, gave it (ref. Luke 8:3).
When our Lord preached in prose or parables, He sometimes picked money for the topic. In this episode, however, Jesus first seeks to avoid the subject. Then, He decides to use the financial opportunity to impart spiritual advice. Money talks, as they say, and tells us whether we value most the things of this world or the kingdom of God.
Jesus had many things to say on this last leg of His life’s ministry. He had recently spoke of the importance of a true confession of faith, of ignoring the legalism of the Pharisees, and of radiating the light of God’s love and truth. Then an unnamed man approached the Lord with a money problem.
Among the things that sustain life and ministry, money is certainly one of them. But in Christ’s kingdom it is the least concern. When you try to make money the priority, be prepared for the silence, or perhaps a mild rebuke, from the Lord.
Here is a man standing before the promised Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords. He could have asked for salvation for his soul, healing for himself or a loved one, the answer for some profound question. What did he ask for? Money. He tried to use his encounter with Jesus to leverage money from his brother. Jesus declined to comment.
TV preachers and Word of Faith ministries live in this realm, using Jesus to make money. Jesus, I assure you, is not involved. I’ve also known a number of professing Christians in more orthodox churches who live not by the motto of “for the glory of God and the good of others,” but rather “get all you can, can all you get, and sit on the can.” Covetousness and miserliness are two ways money talks, and both say bad things about the one who owns it.
While Jesus refused to arbitrate this man’s money problem, He did capitalize on the occasion to preach a parable about possessions. The man now focused on money is the parabolic rich man who builds bigger barns. The figurative message is clear and money talks to tell the tale.
Money talks by the way it is made. How did the man in the parable make his money? He was a fruitful farmer. “The land of the rich man produced plentifully” (ref. vs. 16), the story begins. He who made the land rich made the man rich, and you know of Whom I am speaking. But the rich man makes no mention, gives no thanks, makes no offering to God. If you do not see your means of making money as a gift and stewardship from God, then your money talks, and it says bad things about you from the beginning.
Money talks by the way it is spent. This man took the blessings of God and spent them all on himself. That’s what the world, especially the western world, does wholesale. Like other character indicators, the statistics for charitable giving of professing Christians is little or no greater than the non-Christians in this world.
Money talks by the way it is stored. Though the Bible says little or nothing about savings and retirement, I would not declare it sinful in our society to save a little money and plan for retirement. But how much do you store? This man seemed to store it all, with no gifts to church or charity, no thought for the needy around him, no concern for anything or anybody but himself. His money talked, too much.
Money talks. You show me a person’s good book (their Bible, if they have one) and checkbook, and I can paint you a picture of that person’s heart. So can Jesus, only much better. And He does so with His next choicely chosen words.
Ministry, not Money, is the Goal
Turning now to money talk for true believers, Jesus tells us not to worry about money. God knows we need it, for necessities and niceties. God does not begrudge a little savings, not in the manner of the bigger barn builder, but enough for a rainy day or a reasonable retirement. God does not even mind when we splurge a little, for Christ Himself wore an expensive, seamless garment and had choice perfume poured out over Him, twice.
But your goal in life must not be to make money. It must be to engage in and support ministry, the ministry of the kingdom of God. Everything about you and around you has been ordained by God as your ministry and mission field.
Your vocation is a ministry, and your job location a mission field. Your retirement is a ministry, and your relatives, friends, and neighbors a mission field. Your whole world is a ministry location and a mission field. Don’t worry about money, Jesus said, concentrate on making a difference in the lives of other people, a difference for Christ and kingdom.
Your family and circle of friends is a ministry field. Let them know that you work hard, and honest, for the money. Then, be generous. Pick up the check. Be a gift giver. Let your money talk, and let it tell them that you love them, and you want them to know God loves them even more.
Your church is the visible expression of the kingdom of God on earth. In the Old Testament, the people of God were required by law to give a tithe. In the New Testament, the people of God are encouraged to give by grace. Don’t be a disgrace to grace. If today’s professing Christians gave a tithe, church budgets would increase up to five-fold. It we gave by grace, we would flood the world with missionaries instead of bidding them to take an early retirement. Let’s allow our money talk to the whole world, and not just money, but the way we spend our time, talents, and other treasures for the kingdom of God.
Your life, shorter than you know and sweeter than you deserve, is a gift from God to give back to Him in ministry for the kingdom of God.
Ministry, not Money, offers the Reward
To seriously engage in ministry will no doubt cost you money. Most of the better vocational pastors I know could have made a lot more money in a so-called secular job. The Christians who contribute the most to church and charity do so at the expense of their own bank accounts. Jesus said in the beginning of His ministry that it is impossible to serve both God and money, and a love for one will lead to a lack of the other in your life.
At the end of this long discussion about money and the things it buys, the Lord speaks of ministry and the rewards it gives. The latter is infinitely greater than the other, in all of our past, present, and future endeavors.
When did God give you and kingdom? In the past, back on the day you were born again and became a follower of Jesus Christ. On that day you also became a joint heir with Christ. All that He owns is yours, and He owns it all. But, how much did He use when He was on earth?
God’s is a kingdom of present things, spiritual things, not health and wealth, but grace and mercy and peace and love. Expend your material resources to bring spiritual resources into your life and the lives of others, gaining spiritual treasure along the way.
In the future, you will cash in, sort of. For you cannot put a price on eternal life. But eternal life is only for those who have given their earthly lives to Jesus Christ, lock, stock, and barrel.
Money talks. What does it say about your life, your priorities, your heart? Is your real treasure material or spiritual? Let Jesus have the last word: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (ref. vs. 34).
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Dr. Charles F. "Chuck" DeVane, Jr., is the Pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas. His weekly sermon article, "The Gospel Truth," has been published in newspapers in Arkansas and Georgia. Dr. DeVane is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and has served in the pastorate for over 20 years. Contact Pastor Chuck at PastorChuck@lakehamiltonbaptistchurch.org