Rich towards God: Luke 12:13-34

Focus Passage: Luke 12:13-34 (NASB)

During the times when Jesus taught the crowds, sometimes He taught what He knew someone in the crowd needed to hear with only the Holy Spirit’s prompting, while other times, He taught based on what someone in the crowd had said or asked.

During one of the times that Luke’s gospel describes, Jesus shares a profound parable about greed that was inspired by a request from someone in the crowd. Luke tells us Jesus told the crowd the following parable: “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.” (v. 16-22)

Before jumping to the conclusion that God will require the souls of everyone who decides to build bigger buildings to store riches that they have been blessed with, it is worth looking a little closer at the parable itself.

Jesus opens by saying that “the land” of a rich man was very productive. This means that God is at least partly responsible for this man’s wealth. Just because this man was rich doesn’t mean that he was evil or bad. It simply means that he had been blessed.

However, what is missing from this parable is the man acknowledging that the blessings he received were from God. While the parable was inspired during a discussion about guarding against greed, oftentimes I think when we read this that the idea this parable emphasizes is that we must simply be generous with what God has blessed us with.

But this might miss Jesus’ point slightly. While saving for retirement is not ungodly, Jesus talks about this man not being rich towards God. This implies, at least in my mind, that there was no tithe being returned to God. One of the first things that we are tempted to let slide when we are giving to others is returning a tithe to God. This man might have been someone who faithfully tithed, but we would have no way to know this because this detail is not included in Jesus’ illustration.

Instead, it appears that Jesus wants to draw our attention onto the following truth: Our lives are far more valuable than our stuff, and that God is the only reason we are still alive today. God is not interested in stealing our stuff from us, but for our own good, He wants us to realize and correctly prioritize our stuff as lower than our lives. Jesus came to show us how much God values our lives and our hearts. Jesus died for you and me because He loves you and me, and He loves each of us more than He loves our stuff (i.e. the stuff that He blessed us with).

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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