I have been studying Luke 12:13-34 this week and thought I would share some of my thoughts on this passage. While teaching, Jesus was interrupted by a man who clearly was not interested in what the Lord was saying. He only wanted Jesus to settle a dispute over a will and by “settle a dispute” I mean rule in his favor. Jesus refused to get involved in that struggle preferring to deal with the heart issue that was causing it.
Jesus knew that the problem was that these brothers were both coveting; desiring more than they had. He told the parable of the rich fool to the crowd. He was a man who was oblivious to the needs around him and chose to selfishly hoard the Lord’s blessings. Jesus said that his soul would be required of him and that all he had saved would be lost. This is the lot for all who store up treasure for themselves and are not rich toward God. It is good to plan for the future but hoarding due to a lack of faith is sinful. There is a fine line between the two.
Jesus turns his attention to his disciples; those who had called him Lord and were seeking to follow him. While the man in the parable was worried about what to do with his abundance; Jesus knew that his disciples were concerned over their livelihoods. He instructed them not to worry about materiel needs. In other words, not to covet. Worrying reveals a covetous heart that is not content with what the Lord has provided.
Jesus gives them three reasons not to worry. The first is that there is more to life than material goods. The rich fool mistakenly believed that his wealth would bring him happiness and safety. It brought neither. The second reason is that there is no benefit to worrying. We cannot add a single minute to our lives by worrying; in fact doctors tell us the opposite is true. Finally, the third reason not to worry is that the nations are characterized by worry. The lost world must worry, but the children of God, whose loving father is the creator and sustainer of all things, have no reason to. In a world filled with turmoil a confident church is a wonderful witness.
The Lord gives his followers an alternative to worry. He challenges the disciples to seek the kingdom with confidence; knowing that the Father desires to give it to his children. He tells them to sell their possessions and give to the needy. This is the opposite of what the rich fool did. While we cannot stretch this command and say a Christian must sell all of his possessions, we dare not minimize it either. Jesus clearly connects being rich toward God and seeking the kingdom with giving sacrificially to the poor.
As a new believer I understood seeking the kingdom to mean praying, reading the Bible, and witnessing. Undoubtedly, all of these are included, however I have come to understand that more is involved. Seeking the kingdom involves living a simple life and investing the resources God has given in order to advance his kingdom. The lost world is marked by a concern about material possessions. The church is to be marked by simple lives spent investing in the kingdom and trusting the future into the hands of sovereign God. If he cares for birds and flowers surely he will care for his own children who seek to live according to his will.