Luke 12:13-48 (AD 29)
A right view of eternity is what links the three sections of today’s reading.
- The Rich Fool in the parable ignored God and eternity, and was only interested in pleasing himself in the here and now (v.13-21)
- We give in to worry when we forget the great love and care God has for us, living as if what happens now is all there is and failing to focus on our true home (v.22-34)
- We give in to complacency and laziness when we think either Jesus won’t come again, or he won’t come during our lifetime (v.35-48)
It’s a segue from Jesus chastising someone’s greed, as they went to him under the guise of seeking justice, to try and get more money.
There’s a vicious circle here: the more we think about the here and now, while ignoring eternity, the more precious will seem the things of the world. The more we obsess over the things of the world, the more distant and irrelevant eternity feels.
Cultivating a focus on the eternal is a key to healthy living. Not because we become absent-minded about people or the world – on the contrary, it drives us to care for them more because we see them as people who will live forever. But it helps us to be less grasping and desperate for whatever stuff we feel we need.
Some have taken verses twenty-two to thirty-four, and especially verse thirty-one, to mean that Christians – if they have enough faith – will be financially well-off. That’s not what it’s saying. Jesus was so poor that often he had “nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20), Paul the apostle said that, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13).
But we always have what we need to stay faithful to God, and to remain in him, because “nothing can separate” us from God (Romans 8:38). Proverbially – i.e. as a general rule – that will also mean that if we work hard and trust God we will also have material necessities such as water, food and shelter.
The key contrast is between people who can’t see a life beyond this one, for whom accumulation of stuff is everything, and those who know their ultimately life IS beyond this one, for whom things are not necessary. We should be so free from worry about our possessions that we are generous, because by definition none of our possessions are completely necessary, because what is necessary is that which keeps us close to God (v.33-34).
Whether you can make your next mortgage payment, whether you keep your job, a rocky relationship. These are all big, legitimate concerns, and God doesn’t pretend they’re not. Nor does he promise they’ll all end well for us. But he does tell us that however tough things are, and though we will sometimes be driven to tears, that every problem is smaller than the threat of losing God. The worst thing that can happen to us…can never happen to us. We are safe with our Saviour.