LIFE SHOULD BE ORIENTED AROUND INVESTING IN GOD’S KINGDOM TO LAY UP TREASURE IN HEAVEN RATHER THAN ACCUMULATING WEALTH HERE ON EARTH
There are a wide variety of investment strategies and various paths to prosperity promoted by financial planners. Some might advise a heavier portfolio of stocks and bonds. Some might advocate for at least some holdings in silver and gold. But just as in real estate where the consistent message is “Location, Location, Location” – when it comes to investments the consistent message seems to be “Diversify, Diversify, Diversify.”
Jesus Christ cuts against the grain when He gives His counsel relating to the accumulation of wealth. Rather than trusting in riches for our future security, Jesus says forget about fighting over the family inheritance or building bigger barns and instead be rich toward God. In other words, instead of “Diversify, Diversify, Diversify,” invest all your eggs in the kingdom of God and trust Him for every provision in this life and an unfailing treasure in the life to come.
Steven Cole: If you had come into a lot of money that you planned to invest, presumably you would take some time, thought, and effort to invest it wisely. You may even pay a financial counselor to give you some insights on where to put that money. Yet, while most of us are quite careful about investing money for our own purposes, we’re pretty sloppy when it comes to investing in light of God’s kingdom purposes. But, as the parable of the talents shows, we need to invest what God has entrusted to us in such a way that it will bring a good return in light of His purpose of being glorified among the nations.
I. (:13-15) REJECT THE VALUE SYSTEM OF ACCUMULATING WEALTH
A. (:13-14) Money Grab
1. (:13) Inheritance Dispute
“And someone in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher,
tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’”
Steven Cole: The man was consumed with his problem and he had come to try to get Jesus to solve his problem. He wasn’t there to have Jesus change his heart. He wanted his problem fixed without confronting some deeper issues of sin in his life.
MacArthur: He’s talking about the loftiest of all things, the most elevated truths of the Trinity, and some guy in the crowd blurts this out: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” What a materialist. This guy’s not hard to figure out. And he can’t wait for the Lord to stop talking about heaven, salvation, God, forgiveness, revelation, and get to the really good stuff. This guy wants to turn it into a Tony Robbins seminar.
This is the quintessential naturalist. This is the materialist. No interest in the spiritual at all, he just can’t wait for Jesus to get on his subject. He doesn’t care about the Son of Man confessing Him before the angels of God. He doesn’t care about what he can’t see. He doesn’t care about heaven, he’s into earth. And he’s not even embarrassed, he’s not even ashamed, because it’s pretty routine.
2. (:14) Indignant Refusal to Intervene in This Earthly Matter Related to Riches
“But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?’”
Lenski: The Jews had rightful judges for disputes about property. Jesus had no appointment of that kind, his office and his work were vastly higher, and he was the last person to interfere with the secular authorities.
Spurgeon: Our Lord kept to his proper business, which was the preaching of the gospel and the healing of the sick. We find, in these days, that the minister of the gospel is asked to do almost everything. He must be a politician; he must be a social reformer; he must be I know not what. For my part, I often feel as if I could answer, “Who made me to do anything of the kind? If I can preach the gospel, I shall have done well if I do that to the glory of God, and to the salvation of men. Surely there are enough people to be judges and dividers, there are quite sufficient politicians to attend to politics, and plenty of men who feel themselves qualified to direct social reforms. Some of us may be spared to attend to spiritual affairs.”
B. (:15a) Guard Against Greed
“And He said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed;’”
Hendriksen: The Greek word for greed is very descriptive. Literally it means: the thirst for having more, always having more and more and still more.
Deffinbaugh: both men were probably guilty of greed—the one for not giving his brother what was his due (the older brother, who would be the executor of the will, as it were?), and the other for demanding that he get what was his.
Jesus’ words spell out the evil motive behind the man’s request: greed. They also suggest that greed, like so many other sins, has a variety of forms, each appealing to a certain segment of men. In order to avoid these various forms of greed, men must both “watch out” for them and “be on their guard” against them. It would seem that the first command indicates the need to believe the danger exists, while the second underscores the vigilance needed to resist the evil for what it is.
MacArthur: So He’s saying to this guy and everybody who thought that way, “You’re going down the wrong path, man, you’re going down the wrong path. You’re drinking salt water here. You’re never going to have your thirst quenched, because the life that you need, the life that satisfies, the life that fulfills, the life that is eternal and lasts forever is the life of God in your soul, and it’s not going to come through acquiring possessions.” Greed is idolatry. It’s worshiping the creature, not the Creator; so says Ephesians 5:5 and Colossians 3:5.
C. (:15b) General Principle: Life Cannot Be Defined By Your Possessions
“for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
II. (:16-21) RICHES CAN’T SATISFY OR SAVE YOU
“And He told them a parable, saying,”
A. (:16-17) Nothing But Headaches
1. (:16) Abundant Wealth
“The land of a certain rich man was very productive.”
2. (:17) Anxiety and Headaches
“And he began reasoning to himself, saying,
‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’”
Lenski: When the selfish rich complain about the worry their growing riches cause them, the complaint is always hollow; not for one moment would they exchange places with the poorer man to whom such worry does not come.
B. (:18-19) Never Enough
1. (:18) Unending Pursuit of Greater Wealth
“And he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns
and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.’”
Anyabwile: Storage businesses are one of the fastest growing businesses in the country because we covet and hoard, then we buy more space so we can continue coveting and hoarding.
2. (:19) Unattainable Goal of Contentment and Security and Rest
“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods
laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’”
Darrell Bock: The danger of the pursuit of possessions is that it can make one insensitive to people. Greed can create a distortion about what life is, because the definition of life is not found in objects, but relationships, especially to God and his will. To define life in terms of things is the ultimate reversal of the creature serving the creation and ignoring the Creator (Ro 1:18–32)….Jesus will tell a parable to illustrate just how foolish this position is. Real life, he argues, possesses a far different focus. Real life is tied to God, his offer of forgiveness of sins, his values, and his reward.
C. (:20-21) Not a Good Long Term Strategy
1. (:20) Spiritual Accountability and Temporal Futility
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you;
and now who will own what you have prepared?’”
MacArthur: Oh, the materialist’s worst nightmare; somebody else gets it all. (Eccles. 2:18-19)
Mattoon: Illustration of a Fool —
The story is told of a prosperous, young investment banker who was driving a new BMW sedan on a mountain road during a snowstorm. As he veered around one sharp turn, he lost control and began sliding off the road toward a deep precipice. At the last moment he unbuckled his seat belt, flung open his door, and leaped from the car, which then tumbled down the ravine and burst into a ball of flames. Though he had escaped with his life, the man suffered a ghastly injury. Somehow his arm had been caught near the hinge of the door as he jumped and had been torn off at the shoulder. A trucker saw the accident. He pulled his rig to a halt and ran to see if he could help. He found the banker standing at the roadside, looking down at the BMW burning in the ravine below. “My BMW! My new BMW!!” the banker moaned, oblivious to his injury. The trucker pointed at the banker’s shoulder and said, “You’ve got bigger problems than that car. We’ve got to find your arm. Maybe the surgeons can sew it back on!” The banker looked where his arm had been, paused a moment, and groaned, “Oh no! My Rolex! My new Rolex!!
2. (:21) Temporal vs. Eternal Riches
“So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Keathley: The rich man made at least four mistakes:
1. The rich man made the mistake of thinking he was the owner of his stuff when he was just a steward. We are just stewards of our stuff.
2. He was worried about the present and forgot about eternity.
3. He was concerned only for the physical and forgot about spiritual things.
4. He treasured stuff more than people. He lived an isolated life
III. (:22-31) REORIENT YOUR LIFE TO SEEK GOD’S KINGDOM
A. (:22-23) Trust God for Life’s Necessary Provisions
1. (:22) Don’t Be Anxious About Life’s Necessities (Food and Clothing)
“And He said to His disciples, ‘For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on.’”
Ray Pritchard: Worry is excessive concern over the affairs of life. The key obviously is the word “excessive.” Worry happens when you are so concerned about the problems of life that you can think of nothing else. It is an all-consuming feeling of uncertainty and fear. And it is a sin. Worry is a sin for two reasons: First, because it displaces God in your life. When you commit the sin of worry, you are living as though God did not exist. And you are living as though you alone can solve your problems. Second, because it distracts you from the things that really matter in life. As long as you are worrying, you can’t do anything else. You are strangled by worry.
2. (:23) Don’t Over Value Life’s Necessities
“For life is more than food, and the body than clothing.”
Anyabwile: Never judge your life or God’s care for you by your possessions. You are worth far more than your needs, and your life is not determined by your possessions.
B. (:24-28) Take a Lesson From Nature — 2 Illustrations of God’s Provision From Nature
1. (:24-26) Illustration of God’s Provision for the Ravens
a. (:24a) God Feeds Them
“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; and they have no storeroom nor barn; and yet God feeds them;”
b. (:24b) You Are More Valuable
“how much more valuable you are than the birds!”
c. (:25-26) Anxiety Is Not Productive
“And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why are you anxious about other matters?”
Anyabwile: The world is full of worry. We’re tempted to think that worrying is the same thing as thinking or planning or even protecting ourselves. But worry is completely useless and ineffective when it comes to adding to our life.
Steven Cole: Jesus points out the futility of worry. It never changes reality. If you worry, the outcome is the same as if you don’t worry. Actually, the outcome is worse because worry takes a toll on your health. But Jesus says that worrying won’t add any years to your life.
2. (:27-28) Illustration of God’s Provision for the Lilies
a. (:27) God Clothes Them
“Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these.”
J. Ligon Duncan: This argument depends upon your understanding how lavish God is, that He is incredibly generous. You see, the person who is struggling with coveting, here’s the sad and secret news — the person who is struggling with coveting, and that’s me and you, we believe that God is stingy. We think that God is stingy. We think that He is parsimonious, He just sort of parcels out little tiny chunks of blessing, just enough to get you wanting more, when in fact He incredibly opulent and lavish and prodigal and generous in His giving, to the point that He cares about the aesthetics of the world that He made so much that He made trees and flowers and grass beautiful. He clothed this world beautifully. And Jesus is saying, “Do you believe that God would make lavish provision for grass and He wouldn’t make that provision for you?”
b. (:28a) You Are More Valuable
“But if God so arrays the grass in the field, which is alive today and to
morrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you,”
c. (:28b) Lack of Faith Is Not Productive
“O men of little faith!”
Donald Miller: The faith which frees from covetousness frees from painful anxiety about the necessities of life (vs. 22). It does not, of course, free us from responsible toil and intelligent planning. An economy run on the basis of the life of birds and flowers would collapse. The point is that faith acknowledges even the fruits of toil as the gift of God, and therefore is free to labor without anxious care.
C. (:29-31) Transform Your Ambitions
1. (:29-30) Stop Seeking What the World Seeks
a. (:29) No Need to Worry
“And do not seek what you shall eat, and what you shall drink,
and do not keep worrying.”
b. (:30) Your Heavenly Father Will Provide
“For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek;
but your Father knows that you need these things.”
2. (:31) Start Seeking God’s Kingdom
“But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.”
IV. (:32-34) REFINANCE YOUR TREASURE IN HEAVEN
A. (:32) Refinance Based on a Grace Outlook Rather Than a Works Outlook
“Do not be afraid, little flock,
for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”
B. (:33) Refinance to Support Charity in This Life and Invest in Unfailing Heavenly Treasure
“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.”
Morris: It seems clear that Jesus is not excluding private ownership; but He is emphasizing that believers must not be dominated by their possessions. Trust in riches prevents trust in God. . . A man’s heart, the concentration of his energies and his interests, is always with his treasure, i.e. the things he values most.
Geldenhuys: Because true life is not to be found in the selfish hoarding of earthly treasures and the real wealth of the faithful is in God they must inwardly be quite free from their worldly possessions and must regard and use these as gifts of God’s love to them, to be consecrated by them to His service by bestowing them on the needy and on the promotion of the work of the Lord in general. When a man acts in this manner, and in the right spirit, his spiritual life grows and he accumulates indestructible treasures in heaven.
J. Ligon Duncan: If you are overly preoccupied with what you don’t have, Jesus says, here’s how you defeat that — you believe what God has said in the Word, you make sure that what you really want is the kingdom, you believe God’s promise, and then if you’re struggling with trying to find joy in what you don’t have, you start giving away what you already have.
And what does that do? It does two things. First of all it reminds you that God has provided for you generously because He’s given you enough to be able to give some away. And secondly it reminds you that that stuff you’re giving away isn’t where you get your joy. It is not the source from which your happiness comes. And you’re just blessed to be able to help someone who’s less fortunate than you. So He calls us to be generous with what we already have. This is why generosity is not an option in the Christian life. You will not be able to defeat covetousness if you are not generous because if you are not generous there is every likelihood that you are still coveting stuff.
C. (:34) Refinance to Match Your Heart Devotion
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Anyabwile: Show me a person who cannot give to others, and I’ll show you a person who does not believe the Father gives to him. Show me a person who cannot lend, and I’ll show you’re a person who doubts she has greater riches in the kingdom of Heaven. Show me a person who cannot part with his things, and I’ll show you a person who does not believe the treasures of heaven are better. It’s that simple. Our life follows our treasure (v. 34).
Geldenhuys: It is not the possession of material things that makes one worldly-minded, but the attitude adopted towards them; nor does the lack of earthly things make one heavenly-minded, but he inward freedom from selfishness and covetousness, and consecration to the Lord.
Steven Cole: We usually get this backwards: we think that we will put our treasure where our hearts are. But Jesus says that if we put our treasure somewhere, our hearts will be there also. Store your treasure in heaven by giving generously to the Lord’s kingdom and your heart will be drawn to heaven. Hang on to your earthly possessions greedily and your heart will be on this earth.