Being Rich toward God: Luke 12:22-34

Right before this passage in Luke, Jesus was answering a man asking Him to command his brother to divide the inheritance with him.  Jesus used the parable of the rich fool to caution those who were listening to not be overcome by greed, focusing only on earthly possessions.  He ended the parable by saying, “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21)

So I think the following thirteen verses Jesus was explaining how to be rich toward God.  In doing so, He also laid out three different kinds of economic mindsets.  The first type of economic mindset is that of a slave, and this is illustrated in verses 22 and 23, actually the parable in verses 16 to 21 also represent this first mindset.  So the slave mindset is one that worries about the riches of this world, about things to eat and drink, and about self-indulgence.  When the people of Israel just came out of Egypt, they lived in this mindset.  That’s why they complained to Moses, and to God, about having no food, no meat, and no water in more than one occasion.  People with this mindset work to earn money.  They focus so much on the dollar sign because that is what will get them things, things to meet their needs and wants.  Whether they work for others or have their own business, the job does not bring fulfillment to them; rather, it’s the money that brings fulfillment.  And the mark of this mindset is this: worry.  They can make lots and lots of money and still worry.

The second type of economic mindset is that of a child, and this is talked about in verses 24 to 32.  Money doesn’t mean that much at all for children, at least for most of them most of the time.  Parents are the ones who provide food, clothing, shelter, and all the necessities in life for them.  It’s almost like a miracle in a child’s perspective that food…just appears, but most of the time they are not concerned about food.  They live to have fun, to enjoy life, like the birds in the air and the flowers in the field.  Possession seldom becomes an issue with them, as children trust in their parents for all the things they ever need or want.  God was trying to instill this mindset to Israel when they were in the desert.  So He supernaturally provides manna for His people, and they cannot even store the manna for the next day.  The trust of a child is a daily thing.  No worries for tomorrow or the future.  People with this mindset can find fulfillment in their career outside of the amount they make, and most importantly they know by experience that God is the One who provides for them on a regular basis.

Yet God does not intend His people to stay as children forever.  There is another mindset that God wants His people to move into, and that is one of the adult, which is spoken of in verses 33 and 34.  The adult mindset is one that concerns about others who are in need.  Children wait for the parents to provide, and adults step into the role of parents and bring provision.  After the forty years in the wilderness, the Isrealites finally entered into the promised land.  And once they stepped into that land and started inherit the land and eat its produce, the supernatural provision of manna stopped (Joshua 5:12).  God wants to see His people mature to the level where they can apply Kingdom principles to cultivate fruits and other produce from the land they have inherited.  God still works supernaturally among His people, but He wants us to co-labor with Him in tilling the land.  While we lay the groundwork in obedience to God’s instruction to receive supernatural provision as children, as did Israel in following Moses’ commends to pick the manna in a certain way (Exodus 16), as adults, we learn to walk in our designs  and each utilize our different giftings from God to engage in profit-making (hence the first verb in verse 33 is “sell”, and yes, God is not against us doing business).  Yet the adults don’t produce a profit with their own needs and wants in mind, they make money so they can give it to their children.  That’s why parents can sacrifice their own leisure and comfort to make a living and can give the best for their children.  They would rather have the children have the best portions of food and will eat the lesser quality parts themselves.  And in a spiritual sense, Jesus wants us to be parents to those in need, the poor, orphans and widows, and the marginalized (Matt. 25:40).  This is how we can be rich toward God, storing up treasure in heaven.

The important thing here is that we cannot be parents until we learned to be children first.  If we try to give without first experiencing the God who provides for all our needs, then we will fall back to the slave mentality very soon.  Because without that trust in God’s provision, we will grow weary in trying to provide for others through our own means.  While God wants us to become parents, He wants us to first be His children.  Plus we can only give freely to others what we have freely received from our heavenly Father (Matt. 10:8).  Glory to the One who gives everything so extravagantly to show us His love!

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