In last Sunday’s sermon Fear not, little flock from Luke 12:32-40, I suggested that in this passage Jesus offered three challenges to his disciples: (1) live with assurance; (2) live with boldness; and (3) live with expectant readiness. Here are some of my notes on the challenge to live with boldness (from vv. 33-34):
Jesus begins, “Sell that ye have and give alms” (v. 33a). The command here is much like that which Jesus will give to the rich young ruler when he asks Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life:
Luke 18:22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
And you might recall that Luke records the man went away “very sorrowful, for he was very rich” (18:23).
Here in Luke 12:33, however, Jesus offers this as a command for all his disciples. Is this to be taken literally? Are we in sin if we hang onto any possessions at all? Are Christians to be homeless and wandering vagabonds who have given all they have to the poor?
If you read a bit further I think you will see that while Jesus is speaking metaphorically here (he does not expect every Christian to sell all his possessions at all times) he is also saying concretely to his disciples that they are not to make an idol of their possessions. They are not to be like the rich fool, building bigger barns, and planning to take their ease, to eat, drink, and be merry with not a thought of thankfulness to God and stewardship of all they possess.
The fact that he is speaking metaphorically becomes clear in the continuation: “provide yourselves bags [ballantion, purse of container] which wax not old….” (v. 33). Now, I have found that it often makes sense to buy something of good quality that will last a long time, rather than to buy something of cheap quality that will only last a short time. When I got back from Hungary in 1992 I bought a leather belt that I still wear. I’ve used it for 20 years (though admittedly I’ve had to let it out a bit over the years) and just the other day one of the threads on it began to break. Still, it lasted 20 years. But Jesus speaks here of a purse that will never wear out. Obviously, he is not speaking about a material object. He is saying: Do not invest your main interest and vigor and strength in the attainment and retention of merely material things. Give these things away and dedicate them to the service of your neighbor. Invest in that which will not wear out.
He further describes it as “a treasure [thesauros, treasure box, storeroom; the root for the English word “thesaurus” which is a treasury of words] in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth” (v. 33b).
We sometimes hear someone warn that we should not be so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. But here Jesus says we should not be so earthly minded as to be no heavenly good.
I remember the very first trip I ever took out of the country just after my freshman year in college. It was a mission trip to Haiti with a group of Christian men. Just the week before we arrived the missionaries we were working with had their home broken into and many cherished possessions stolen. I’ll never forget what this humble and godly missionary said: “but I have a treasure in heaven that no thief can break through and steal.”
Jesus cinches his point in v. 34: “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The questions you must ask yourself are these: To what end am I living? Am I living with boldness for Christ? Is he the treasure I pursue above all and for which I would gladly cast away all?
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Post a Comment