Greed Builds Bigger Barns

We are now up to the fourth command in this infant stage, or Win Level. So far we have…

  1. Come and see – John 1:39
  2. Repent and Believe – Mark 1:14-15
  3. Fear / Do not Fear – Luke 12:5-7
  4. Greed / Covetousness – Luke 12:15

Last time we saw how GREED was a second barrier to faith in this introductory level, 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). Only Luke records this story (SEC 147).

Our passage today is from Luke 12:13-21, regarding the issue of dividing inheritance, and Jesus’ story about the accumulation of wealth and building bigger barns.

1. Consider these opening discussion questions…

  • What did you like to collect as a child? What about now?
  • What would you like to be doing ten years from now?

2. Of what is Jesus warning (Luke 12:15)?
BEWARE and BE ON YOUR GUARD – present imperatives that could be translated, “be ever on alert and be guarding yourself from every form of greed.”

  • Jesus is pointing out that greed seeks more material possessions which are not to be equated with “really living” (John 10:10, 1 Timothy 6:19).
  • Material possessions can become a substitute for the proper object of worship, which makes greed into idolatry (Colossians 3:5).
  • A person is measured by what he is, not by what he has.
  • Mark Twain once defined civilization as “a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”

3. How do you respond to the dilemma of the rich man (Luke 12:17)?

  • He had so many possession he did not know what to do. He had nowhere to store his crops.
  • How would you have responded to the man? “I sure wish I had that problem” which might reveal some covetousness on our part. If you inherited a great deal of wealth, would that create a problem for you? Or would you just ask God how to handle HIS resources?
    1. Wealth can choke the Word of God (Matthew 13:22).
    2. Wealth can create snares and temptations (1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19) and give you a false sense of security.
  • People say that money does not satisfy, but it does satisfy if you want to live on that level.

4. What was his solution (Luke 12:18)?
He was so prosperous that his solution was to build bigger barns to store all his crops. His investments had produced income for life. The farmer saw his wealth as an opportunity to please himself rather that to build God’s kingdom or his people. He did not think about others or about God.

5. What was this man’s motivation (Luke 12:19)?

  • He was comforted to think that he had all he would ever need, so eat, drink, and be merry.
  • He thought the world was all there would ever be, and life consisted in luxury and plenty.
  • How blind is this guy? What a tragic mistake.

6. Why was his solution displeasing to God (Luke 12:20)?

  • Is God intolerant of self-indulgent people?
  • Is God jealous of all other gods?
  • Is it that God doesn’t care for rich people?
  • God’s response was that this man was foolish because when he died, his possessions could do nothing for him. That night he would die, leave this world, and answer directly to God for the life he had been given.

7. What is the point of Jesus’ parable?

  • It’s okay to be successful, but remember your highest priority?
  • Prepare for the future, but look beyond your finances?
  • When you think you have it made, think again?
  • You can’t take it with you?
  • If you store up riches for yourself, you are not rich toward God (Luke 12:21)

8. How do you respond to the decision of the rich man (Luke 12:18)?

  • He was a shrewd businessman, saving for the future. Jesus commended shrewdness (Luke 16:8).
    1. Good business principles are commended (1 Timothy 5:8).
    2. Jesus does not encourage waste (John 6:12).
  • But Jesus saw this man’s selfishness (note the 11 personal pronouns used) and thought him a fool.
  • Look out for number one is not an attitude of Jesus.

9. How do you respond to the desires of the rich man?

  • This is the life: success, satisfaction, security. What else could he want?
  • Jesus did not see this man enjoying life, but rather facing death.
  • True life does not come from our abundance of possessions; the man had a false sense of life and death.
    1. “That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest” – Henry David Thoreau.
    2. “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone” – Henry David Thoreau.

10. How do you respond to the death of the rich man?

  • Too bad this guy died, just when he had everything going for him. How tragic that he could not finish his plans.
  • The tragedy was NOT in what he left behind, but in what lay before him (eternity without God).
  • He lived without God and he died without God.

11. How would you like to be remembered?

  • Someone who gave a lot?
  • Someone who enjoyed what he had?
  • Someone who was rich toward God?
  • Someone who invested into God’s kingdom, through missions, benevolence, generosity?

This man stored up and saved for his retirement, but was totally unprepared for the afterlife. He threw his whole soul into that which would be gone in an instant. Notice how he had a deceptive conversation with his soul (Luke 12:19).

  1. Wealth is to be enjoyed.
  2. Wealth is to be employed.

It was Rick Warren who said, “It is not a sin to BE rich, it is a sin to DIE rich.” Remember the command (Luke 12:15). Jesus has this warning for those investigating the Christian faith, that greed and covetousness are a barrier to faith in Christ.

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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