Preparing the Way – Week 3: Luke 12:13-21
We’re in a series exploring what it means to be fully devoted followers of Christ. We’ve discussed the personal characteristics of someone fully devoted to Jesus. Last week looked at the “good works” that evidence a life fully devoted to Jesus. But I don’t want you to get the wrong impression—being all that God has called you to be is not about behavior modification; it is about deep-rooted change at the soul-level.
In Jesus’ day, it was common for Rabbis to adjudicate legal disputes. Thus, in the passage we are examining, it was fully reasonable for this man to ask Jesus to resolve this matter. Yet, Jesus chastises the man and launches into the parable of the rich man and his barns. Why would Jesus do that? Why was Jesus seemingly frustrated with the man’s request for help with this legal matter? I believe that Jesus addressed this man as He did not because the legal dispute was not important, but rather because Jesus understood that there was something even greater at stake—this man’s soul.
Warren Wiersbe described covetousness as “an unquenchable thirst for getting more and more of something we think we need in order to be truly satisfied.” In Colossians 3:5, the Apostle Paul described covetousness as idolatry. It did not matter to Jesus whether this man was entitled to a portion of the inheritance or not. What mattered to Jesus was his soul, which Jesus perceived to be in danger, both in this life and in the life to come. This man was consumed with “his rights.” He was convinced that if his brother just gave him what he thought he deserved, he would find peace and satisfaction. But Jesus understood that the path the man was on was idolatrous. It was a path that would never bring the fulfillment he was seeking, and it was a path that would ultimately lead to eternal separation from the One his soul truly needed.
We’ve all been created with a soul. Our souls are what integrate all the aspects of who we are (mind, body, will) into a functional whole. When our souls are properly aligned as God intends, we find the peace and satisfaction in life we all crave. That’s what Jesus meant when He said that came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He wasn’t talking about wealth or prosperity; He was talking about peace and fulfillment. Thus, as Dallas Willard puts it, “The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity.” When we grasp this, we will be freed from that cruel slave-master called expectation. We will be truly free to pursue God wholeheartedly and become all that He has called us to be. Conversely, when our souls are out of alignment, when we seek our identity in what we have or what we do rather than who we are in Christ, we will always find ourselves in a state of dissatisfaction.
The great theologian Mark Twain once defined civilization as “a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” If Twain used that to describe 19th century America, imagine what he would think of life in the 21st century. There’s so much distraction in our modern life that it is easy for us to lose our way. It is easy for us to get caught up in pursuing fulfillment in something other than God. But any time we make something other than God an ultimate thing, then we are guilty of idolatry, and our souls are in peril. Let’s strive to be a church that finds its meaning and riches in God, not in personal accomplishment or the accumulation of things. Let us be a church freed to wholeheartedly pursue what God has called us to be.
- When John D. Rockefeller was asked how much money would be enough, his response was, “One dollar more.” What about you? Be honest—is there anything that you would say of, “If I just had _________, I would be satisfied?”
- Discuss the statement, “The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity.” What do you think that means? If you applied this principle to your life, would you live any differently? Would your priorities change at all?
- Take a moment to assess the state of your soul. Is your soul at peace? Is your soul in a state of dissatisfaction? Why?