High Greed and Low Greed
Rev. Min J. Chung
(Sunday Lords Day Service, December 9, 2007)
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. 14 Jesus replied, Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? 15 Then he said to them, Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a mans life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. 16 And he told them this parable: The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. 18 Then he said, This is what Ill do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And Ill say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. 20 But God said to him, You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? 21 This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God. 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
What do you worry about? If youre a student, youre worried about finals, your semester grades, etc. If youre graduating, youre worried about getting a job. If youre working, youre worried about keeping your job. If youre doing something wrong in secret, youre worried about getting caught. Perhaps youre worried because youre pregnant (or your girlfriend is) but not married.
Worry shows us what we love. We dont worry about what we dont care about. Worry is a servant of love. This passage says that we worry about money because of our love of money.
In the book of Luke, Jesus is training His disciples. Someone asks Jesus a question about inheritance, and Luke 12:22 says, Jesus said to his disciples. So Hes been training them to not to worry. In the previous passage, Jesus told them not to worry about being killed.
If you serve the Lord, you dont have to worry. Hell always provide what you need (not necessarily what you want). Through this passage, well learn how to fight our hearts and not worry.
Warning against Greed
Luke 12:13-15 13 Someone in the crowd said to him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. 14 Jesus replied, Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? 15 Then he said to them, Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a mans life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
A. Someone (13)
1. In some families, there are issues with inheritance. Some people even argue about it at funerals. In Jewish culture, the older brother received twice as much, so theres a good chance the younger brother is the one complaining to Jesus. This man thinks the brother is the problem. Jesus replies, No, the problem is you. Your brother has a problem, too, but the problem is your heart. Its greed in his heart.
2. In every situation, the problem is always me—my heart. If I didnt want something for myself, I wouldnt have a problem. Wed have eternal security in Christ, and we would never lack.
3. My ninth-grade son wrote this sentence in his mystery novel: The conflict of one man is always greater than the war that rages between the two. As Christians, the conflict in our hearts is greater than any relational conflict we might have. My heart is always the problem.
B. Jesus (14)
1. The man is telling Jesus, Give me what I want. Serve me. Jesus is saying, Im not your servant. When we pray, we are often commanding Him to give us what we want.
C. Greed (15)
1. Wanting something for myself is what is wrong. Greed simply means covetousness. Greed means I want more; its a desire to want more. David wanted one more wife. Adam and Eve wanted one more fruit. That is the problem of humanity. Notice that when Jesus speaks to him, He says, Man. Hes not using it as a exclamation: Man! Humanity is fallen, and it started with the first man, Adam. Jesus Christ came as the second Adam. Christians are the second Adams generation. He says man again in verse 15, mans life.
2. We must have a theocentric perspective of greed. Most people know greed is bad, but we often dont see it for what it truly is. Colossians 3:5 says, Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Greed is idolatry. That puts it in perspective. Its like people in the Old Testament bowing down to a wooden idol. Do you worship that idol because you love it? No, its because you love something else and want that idol to get it for you.
3. I want money. Thats covetousness. But hes commanding Jesus: Tell my brother to serve me. Hes telling Jesus to serve him. Hes telling his brother to serve him. So selfishness is a desire to be served and worshiped. Therefore, its a desire to be God. Greed is a form of selfishness, specifically about money in this passage. Its idolatry—wanting to be served. Idolatry is not worshiping money or things, but ultimately self. People dont kiss money; people use money to get kissed. Idolatry is self-worship. The essence of greed is a desire to be God.
4. I dont desire to be rich, so I used to think I wasnt greedy. But somebody once took me to a really nice restaurant, where it cost a couple hundred dollars to eat. I was coming from a wedding so I was wearing a suit, and everyone treated me so nicely. Thats when I realized that I have great potential to love money—because I can get respect through it. Its not that I love money, but what I get because of it.
Warning in Abundance: High Greed
Luke 12:16-21 16 And he told them this parable: The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. 18 Then he said, This is what Ill do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And Ill say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. 20 But God said to him, You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? 21 This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God.
I think it was Rockefeller who said, Just a little more. Our hearts are addictive. When we get it, we want more of it.
This rich guy has a good crop and asks, What shall I do?—as if he has a big problem. Its like people who ask me for advice: Pastor Min, I have five job offers. What shall I do? I want to yell at them and tell them not to complain. J
A. What he says to himself (16-19)
1. In verse 17 this successful person is thinking about how to save up for himself. Hes preoccupied with his selfish plans. His future isnt about serving God or others; his future is about himself. He pines for that sense of security. Hes wise in his own eyes. Thats his evaluation of himself. Think of how full of himself he is.
B. What God says to him (20-21)
1. God calls him a fool. Its not because he invested. Im not against investing—as long as you use it for the kingdom. He was a fool because of his motive. This very night your life will be demanded from you. Your soul is in Gods hands. Who will get what you have prepared for yourself. You cant take anything from this life with you to the next world. Who will get it? Not you.
2. It doesnt look like this man was trying to hurt anyone. So whats wrong with it? This sounds eerily like the philosophy of the average American. I just wanna live the nice American dream—Im not hurting anyone. I look at pornography—Im not hurting anyone. Were having premarital sex—were not hurting anyone. But the Bible says there are more consequences than we realize. Psalm 14:1 says, The fool says in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good. A fool lives as if he is God, as if there is no God.
3. Colossians 3:5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
4. Mark 4:18 says, 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Not only is God absent in your thoughts and life, greed hinders your spiritual life.
5. Proverbs 30:7-10 says, 7 Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, Who is the LORD? Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. 10 Do not slander a servant to his master, or he will curse you, and you will pay for it. The point isnt to do what the writer of this Proverb did. The point is his reasoning, his thinking process. The point is being theocentric. Some people can be rich and still serve God. Others can be poor and not steal. Life is not about you; life is about God and His glory. That perspective will lead you to eternal joy in Him. Christians should live according to necessity. You can have money in your bank account. If God gives more, share. What is necessity? Prayerfully decide with your family.
Warning in Lack: Low Greed
Luke 12:22-28 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27 Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
Ive talked before about high pride and low pride. High pride means, Im great and youre not. Low pride is: Im not great but I want to be. Similarly, high greed is: I have a lot but want more. Low greed is I dont have anything, but I want it.
In the previous passage, Jesus talks to the younger brother, who is rich. In this passage, Jesus talks to the disciples, who will be poor. Hes preparing the disciples to preach the gospel after He leaves.
A. Warning against worry
1. Its love for self because life is about you, your clothes and food and family.
B. The principle of the quantity of life (24-26): Ravens
1. You are more valuable than ravens. You cannot by worrying add a single hour to your life. The quantity of your life is in Gods control.
C. The principle of the quality of life (27-28): Lilies
1. God takes care of lilies, and you are more valuable than lilies.
2. Dont desire to have. Have faith in Him. Hell provide your necessities so you can live for the kingdom.
D. Do not worry
1. Life is more important than food (23)
a) Life is not about food. There are more important things to think about than food. Dont think about food/clothes. Life is more than school, house, health, even family. Life is about God. Overcome anxiety about the little things by caring passionately about the one needful thing, which is to know God and live for His kingdom.
2. God is in control of the length of life (24-25)
a) Lottie Moon said, You are invincible until the will of God is fulfilled in your life. Relax. You cannot die unless God is ready to take you home.
3. Worry is useless (25)
a) Imagine looking at an egg in a frying pan and commanding it, Be cooked! Worry doesnt do anything.
4. God is our Father who provides (29-30)
a) God takes care of lilies and ravens, but they dont have the image of God in them like we do. What if my children came up to me at night and said, Daddy, I cant sleep, because Im not sure youre going to give me something to eat tomorrow? What an insult to my fatherhood! Thats how God feels when we worry.
5. You are eternally valuable for the kingdom (27-28)
a) We arent lovable. We deserve hell. But God loves us because of Christ. We are valuable not because we are good-looking or smart. Rather its because we have the image of God in us and the potential to expand His kingdom.
Said the robin to the sparrow, I should really like to know why these anxious human beings rush about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, Friend, I think it must be they have no Heavenly Father such as cares for you and me. May we not be out-trusted by animals. Worriers feel every blow that never falls, and they cry over things they never lose.
Living in All Circumstances
Luke 12:29-31 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
A. What not to do (29)
1. Even if I dont have food, Hell provide what I need. That God provides for His children doesnt mean that He doesnt also provide for unbelievers. God provides for everybody. Rain falls on the fields of both Christians and non-Christians. The difference is that the Christian recognizes that its the Father who provides. Whats the difference between how a Christian and non-Christian uses money? A Christian knows it is Gods and uses it according to His wishes and will. Theyre all Gods possessions. Make sure not to worry.
2. Worry leads to many sins. Ive counseled many people who worry about what others will think of them if have a baby before marriage, so they have an abortion. You worry about what others think of you, so you lie. You worry that some guy will like a girl you like, so you gossip about them. You worry about your grades or future job, so you cheat.
B. Why not? (30)
1. To the world, God is a god; to believers, God is our Father. He sees us like He sees Christ. Thats why verse 30 says Your father.
2. People in this world receive things from God with their hands. Children of God receive from God with their hearts. They receive what is earthly; we receive what is eternal.
3. Think of Adam. He wanted the fruit for himself, so his arm folded toward himself. How about the second Adam? He gave, so His arms were stretched out toward others. The arms of the children of the first Adam move inward. The arms of the children of the second Adam move outward. Heres the million dollar question. Whose descendent are you? Both DNAs are in us. We are in the process of becoming like Christ. We are growing everyday, less in love with money and more in love with Christ.
C. What to do (31)
1. Seek Gods kingdom; dont seek blank. He will provide you with what you need in your hands.
a) In abundance
(1) Be a giver and show Gods hands. Use your hands to picture Him. If you give anything with love in your heart, Gods generous hand will be seen. Lets stop moving our arms to ourselves.
(2) Many people at CFC have learned how to be frugal with their money, but theyre still learning how to be generous to others. At restaurants, I try to tip a little more. It shows the waiters and waitresses love and care.
b) In lack
(1) Be a receiver and show Gods hands. Pray and receive whatever the Lord provides you. People will see the invisible, giving hand of God through your hands as you express your gratitude and give testimonies of how Hes provided everything you need.
c) Whether you receive or give, its about God. Show Gods hand both by giving and by receiving. When you fail, repent and be honest about those failures. Then show the forgiving hand of God. If youre offended, forgive. Give people the forgiveness of God. In failure, show off Gods forgiveness. In success, show off Gods grace and mercy. Its about God; its not about us.
D. People often give things to me. Thank you so much. When CFC was first starting, I met this older Korean pastor, who was having his own financial problems. After we finished our meeting, I started walking to my car. After a moment, he ran up to me and put something in my pocket. I looked down and saw a wrinkled one hundred dollar bill. I felt so touched by his love for me and Christ.
E. Yesterday I was driving down Green Street. Ahead of me I saw a little squirrel running across the street with a huge piece of bread—it was bigger than him! He was moving so slowly; I was really hoping he would make it across the street. I imagined that he was this dad trying to feed his family, and the squirrel babies would be so happy at the bread. I was so happy thinking about that. Thats how the Heavenly Father provides for us.
F. God has provided for me in terms of cars. My first car cost $350. It had no muffler. My mom knew I was coming home a mile away. My son is coming home! My second car had a broken engine but it moved. Gooey stuff always leaked out. I was able to drive it for a long time. Another car in college I bought for $650. After I bought it, I was driving it home and felt this wind. I lifted up the mat, and saw it had a hole in the floor! All the cars I had put together cost less than $1000. In seminary, we bought an $8000 car. Then I drove a car with over 100,000 on it given to us by a missionary to Taiwan. Now Im driving a car with over 100,000 miles on it given to us by another missionary. Can you imagine driving a car given to you by a missionary? The Lord provides what I need.
G. After large group, I was going home
with Hannah and Sarah. Thats my small group hangout. We usually go to a
Chinese fast food place. I order this $5 meal by phone. Im training the
youngest one, Sarah, whos six years old, to get the food. She goes up to the
counter and says, Beef with Broccoli. The people behind the counter cant see
anyone. Hannah and I are peeking in the window and laughing. When we get home,
they know theyre not supposed to eat food at night, but theyre giving me
signs. Daddy, that smells so good. Daddy, when get to eat stuff like that,
it tastes so good, I dont want to brush my teeth. OK, lets eat it before
mom comes. A couple results: I become popular to them. Also, because Mom is
coming home, they serve me quickly. They get a big plate for me and two little
plates for themselves. Hannah likes broccoli and Sarah likes carrots. They both
like beef. Hannah prays. She doesnt like praying anywhere else except at home.
She prays quickly. I think she volunteers because she thinks that if I pray it
will take too long. After we finish I say, Lets clean up before mom comes
home. Were about to clean and Hannah has disappeared. Hannah, where are you?
There she is, in the corner, licking her plate. Its so fun. I dont even need
to turn on the TV.
Lord, Im so thankful.
A small apartment.
A small meal.
The love of a squirrel family.
Thats all we need.
All I know is that Im not rich, but Im very happy. I dont have much, but no complaints here. Ive seen the giving hand of God, and thats all I need.
I pray for you, for the blessing of contentment. No high greed. No low greed. Lets be thankful. Jesus is all we need. We have the truest joy. Do you want to take gold to heaven with you? The pavement in heaven is made out of gold. All you need is Jesus. Lets pray to be empty of our love for gold and worldly things. Lets pray that well be full of Jesus.
Suggested Closing Songs
Made Me Glad
You Are Holy