Today’s Reading: Luke 12
A. W. Tozer, the famous Christian writer, said that there are seven ways to really know ourselves and know what our character is like. He called them rules for self discovery. They are:
1. What we want most
2. What we think about most
3. What we laugh at
4. What we do with our leisure time
5. The company we enjoy
6. Who and what we admire
7. How we use our money
How we use our money . . . Number 7 is a big one.
That’s where we land in today’s reading. Jesus tells a story in Luke 12 about someone we call the rich fool who messed up on number 7: He spent it on himself.
Remember, God entrusted us with His money not to hoard for ourselves but to make a difference. When we think bigger and not longer, when we think me and not others, we fail the test at number 7.
Calvin Coolidge, our thirtieth US president said it like this: “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been the reward for what he gave.” This Luke 12 man missed that lesson. Let’s read the story and see where the number 7 part got really messed up.
[Jesus] told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then 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. 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.”’ 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?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
The number one reason people get upset when money is mentioned in church is that they think it’s “my” money. (This was the rich fool’s issue.) They have mistaken themselves for God and think it’s theirs. But as famed missionary statesman, J. Oswald Sanders, reminds us, “The basic question is not how much of our money we should give to God, but how much of God’s money we should keep for ourselves.”
Wow. Ponder that. That’s a new way of thinking about the offering this Sunday.
God called this man a fool for one reason—because the man kept using one word over and over.
The rich fool said . . . my barns . . . my grain . . . my goods . . . my soul.
My, my, my, my.
Always remember, no one is an owner—we are stewards. It is not . . . my children . . . my health . . . my house . . . my life . . . my soul . . . my education . . . my business . . . my company . . . my future. Once you live a my, my, my, my life, you realize how short that kind of life is. There is no future in a my, my, my, my life.
God told the man, “You messed up.” Jesus said he had “treasure for himself” but he was not rich toward God. How do we become rich toward God? The answer to our greed is that we give your greed away—that’s how we become rich toward God. When we give our money away, we take a hammer to our stingy heart. As John Wesley famously said, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can.”
It’s impossible to be selfish and happy at the same time. Happiness comes from giving not getting. Mother Teresa said, “One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.”
My, my, my, my is nobody to anybody.
It isn’t a sin to possess money, but it is a sin when what you possess possesses you. Is getting rich wrong? Of course not. In the Bible, many heroes of the faith, such as Abraham and David, were rich. Money can be a great vehicle for changing people’s lives. But if it is not used correctly, it can adversely change yours, just as it did this man in Luke 12.
The rich fool made three mistakes:
1. He mistook his body for his soul. His body had the stuff but his soul was starving.
2. He mistook time for eternity. He acted as if his future were in his own hands. His soul would be demanded of him that night; it was a word that was used when a debt or loan was due and it was payday.
3. He mistook himself for God. Six times the man used the pronoun I, and if you add the number of times he used the other personal pronouns, the total comes to eleven.
It’s all a matter of what you do with what God has given you.