The title of this three part series is “Greed and Worry.” So far all we have focused in on is greed. In part 1 of this study we saw that an occasion arose for Jesus to teach on this subject because He was asked to intervene in a family dispute (12:13-14). Jesus went straight to the heart of the matter and said this:
Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
By saying this Jesus pointed out that greed is an ever present danger that we must watch out for in our own hearts. A reason for watching out for this deceptive sin of greed that Jesus points out is that life is not about possessions in the first place. The rest of Scripture is clear, life is about God the Creator, not things in His creation.
Last week we saw that in order for the point to get across in verses 16-21 Jesus tells a parable:
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. 17 “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 “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. 19 ‘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.”‘ 20 “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?’ 21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
This man was blessed by God materially, but he was self-sufficient in his heart and rather than being generous toward others or God’s work he hoarded this blessing to himself and built bigger barns. He felt secure, but he made a major miscalculation. He thought he was in control of his future, but the Lord required his soul that night. And in verse 21 Jesus drives home the point:
“So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21)
But in this last study we are going to consider the other half of the title. Not greed, but worry.
And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 “If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 “But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 “And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 “For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:22-32).
Maybe you would say that you do not struggle with greed, but worry. Jesus reveals there is a connection between these two. What if in fact someone were to be rich toward God and live for another time and another place even with their material resources thereby turning away from greed? Notice verse 22 starts off with Jesus saying “for this reason I say.” This connects Christ’s conclusion about covetousness or greed with His teaching about not worrying but trusting. The connection is this: because your life is about richness toward God in everything and not richness in physical things, don’t worry God will take care of the person who lives a life that is rich toward God.
Four times in these verses the word “worry” or “worrying” shows up. When Jesus was speaking about greed He was speaking to all people but the specific occasion seemed to involve those who were not necessarily His disciples. But now in verse 22 He is focused on teaching His own disciples not to worry. The reason behind this is that the solution for greed is trusting in God through Christ and only those who trust Christ for forgiveness of sins based on His death on the cross have any hope of having true victory over greed or worry. So what is the counsel of Jesus?
Christ’s solution involves a command: Don’t worry about physical things (22)
Now certainly we are supposed to take responsibility for these things in our lives. The point however is this: Worry or anxiety is turning appropriate and commanded concern into illegitimate and sinful concern marked by a lack of trust in God. Legitimate concern must never turn into worry and/or anxiety because that is evidence of not trusting God.
Jesus gives reasons to back up the command of not worrying about physical things (23-32)
- First, because life is not about physical things (23). Why waste your life worrying about something that life is not about?
- Second, because you are more valuable to God than the ravens that God provides for (24). So if God provides for them, will He not provide for you as you focus on His purposes?
- Third, because worrying does not accomplish anything (25-26). You can worry about physical things all you want, but it will not add one hour to your life. In fact, studies have shown it will take some away!
- Fourth, we should have the faith that God will care for us since He lavishly cares for transient flowers (27-28). All human beings are made in God’s image and if you are a disciple of Jesus you have been redeemed by God as well. You were made by God and for God and He has redeemed you to Himself. Do you think He might have a stake in caring for you now if He has so cared for you in the past and will for all eternity?
- Fifth, because worrying about physical things is worldly (29-30a). To focus in on material things by trusting in anything other than God is to be conformed to the spirit of this world. When we concentrate our life upon material things through worry we act like those who do not know and who cannot trust God, therefore we are being worldly.
- Sixth, because your Father knows what you need (30b). God knows what we need when we need it and He is a good Father. To worry is to deny one of three things: Either that God is all knowing about what we need, that He is all-powerful to provide for our needs, or that He is good and will always do what is best for us.
- Seventh, because as you seek Christ’s kingdom first, the physical things will be taken care of (31-32). We seek Christ’s kingdom first when we are more concerned with living for God’s glory than physical things. If we are to seek Christ’s kingdom first we must choose to promote God’s glory rather than focus on gaining physical things.
Here is the main point: Make your life all about what really matters (The purposes of Christ) and you can be confident that God will look after the issue of physical things. Do not be a hoarder of things, trust in the God who sent Jesus to provide for your deepest need. Trust in Jesus who “though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich”-rich spiritually and rich eternally.