Ep.152: Luke 12: Building Bigger Barns.
Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
In Luke 12, a man said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me your judge?” Which is a rather polite way of saying, “I wouldn’t touch family arguments like that with a 10-foot pole!”
Then Jesus told this story. A rich farmer had a bumper crop, and no place to store it. So he said to himself, “Self, this could be very good. I think I’ll tear down my barns and build them bigger. Then I’ll have food security and financial security, and I can eat, drink, and be merry.”
But God said to the man, “You’re going to die tonight, and then you can explain to me how you’ve used your life. And by the way: who gets all your stuff?”
What a great story. How many people do you know whose life plan is to ride the stock market up, to win the lottery, or to earn a pension? And then they will retire in luxury with good food, good Scotch, and lots of golf. Some of us have more modest aspirations: pay the mortgage, get a good used vehicle, and retire comfortably on Social Security or the Canada Pension Plan.
So what’s wrong with that? We’ve earned it, haven’t we?
Jesus explained his story by saying of the barn-builder, “That’s how it will be for people who store up riches on earth but are not rich toward God.” Death interrupts their plans, and then they face a new reality.
Here are three misguided ways to look at this story.
- The first is a prosperity-gospel approach that says Jesus talks more about money than about any other single topic, including faith or prayer. This view concludes that if money is that important to Jesus, it should be that important to us too.
I suggest that Jesus uses money as shorthand for what you value, what you think will make your life rich. Jesus’ punchline is, “It’s foolish to be rich in money and not rich toward God.”
- A second misguided way to interpret this story is to say, “Jesus makes the exciting point that you can have it all! He wants to help you maximize the profits on your earthly farm. Just be sure that at the same time you stack up a bit of wealth toward God. Then you’ll have the best of both worlds.”
The only flaw of this theory is that it’s not what Jesus taught.
- Another misguided interpretation tells us that what Jesus is really talking about is the farmer’s ATTITUDE, not his money. The farmer’s problem is that he’s FOCUSED on building his net worth and his comfortable lifestyle. The solution is clearly to supplement his wealth-management with a bit of focus on God, and then it will all be good.
The flaw in this theory is that Jesus doesn’t just fix attitudes, he changes lives. His program is the cross, which might require changes to both your attitudes and your finances.
In summary, the farmer’s problem is that he has everything out of balance. He can’t solve that by adding a bit of God to his life. He needs to change everything! Perhaps he needs to start over at the beginning, like being born again.
Jesus, if you were a bookkeeper, you would have told us how much to give. Do you want a 10% tithe, or 15%, or (heaven forbid!) 25%? If you were a financial planner, you could help us minimize taxes and maximize income and still be rich toward God. But the vocation you chose is savior of the world. And you tell us that our wealth is passing, that life ends in death, and that after death the ONLY thing that matters is God! O Jesus, make us rich toward God.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.