People or Possessions?

Scripture: Luke 12:13-21

Key Verse: But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ (verse 20)

Observation: Jesus is sharing words with his disciples encouraging them to be strong in the faith even as they face hostile and even violent opposition when someone in the crowd makes a request of Jesus. The request is a simple one and seems to be reasonable, “tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” Being the great teacher that he is, Jesus turns this simple request into a teaching moment about the importance of relationship over material wealth. He goes on to tell a parable about a rich man who possesses fertile land. The land produces so much that even this rich man’s barns are not large enough to hold the bounty. The rich man concludes that he will tear down his barns and build larger barns in their place. Once this is done, he believes that he can relax and enjoy the fruits of his labor all by himself for years to come. However, the Lord calls the man to give an accounting of his life and in conjunction with this call poses the question, “the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” Jesus concludes that the point of life is not storing up earthly treasures but being rich in the things of God.

Analysis: One possible interpretation of Jesus’ parable is the importance of loving and valuing people over possessions. I believe the saddest part of the parable is that the rich man has no one in his life that he thought enough of to share his possessions. I believe this is a lonely person who only finds comfort and joy in eating, drinking, and making merry by himself. However, God made us social creatures. The things of God include building and maintaining relationships with other people whether they are family or friends. The warning to the person who is pressing his brother to divide the family inheritance is the danger of seeking a material reward at the risk of losing the relationship with his brother. We face the same danger of putting material possession, political power, and economic control ahead of building and maintaining relationships. We fail to recognize the danger of getting exactly what we want and having God call us to give an accounting of our lives. God in Jesus Christ, lovingly invites us to follow his path of prioritizing people over possessions and relationships over material rewards.

Prayer: God of abundance and generosity, we come before your presence once more seeking to live according to your plans and intentions. We ask forgiveness for the times we failed to faithfully live in community with those you have put in our lives. We confess feeling compelled to look out for ourselves while claiming to have full faith in you. Forgive us and free us to live according to the love, peace, and harmony you have provided. In the name of Jesus. Amen.


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