Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Luke 12:13-21 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: In this story from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus has an encounter with a family plagued by inheritance problems. Someone yells from the crowd, "Sir, please tell my brother to divide my father's estate with me!" Now, we are not given the details behind this family controversy. It is possible that the father had died without leaving a will. Or maybe one of the brothers was trying to cheat the other, as in the story of Jacob and Esau. However, we do know that the man's request was not totally out of line. Jewish rabbis were often called on to serve as judges and to settle disputes. But obviously this man does not want to learn from Jesus; he only wants Jesus to do something for him. Jesus takes advantage of the opportunity to teach the crowd about what it means to be successful in life. He replies, "Man, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that? Beware! Don't always be wishing for what you don't have. For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are."
I love that response. Jesus does something more important than helping this family sort out a will. He exposes the man’s potential real motivation. As is so often the case when families gather for the reading of a will, the issue is not justice or fairness but greed. And the shame is that families and friendships can often be permanently torn apart by greed.
Some translations of this passage use the word “covetousness” instead of “greed." Covetousness implies a desire for someone else’s wealth. Covetousness has also been defined as "wanting more of what you already have enough of." Most of us would not call ourselves greedy, but is it possible that we often want more of what we already have enough of? Maybe Jesus is trying to call to our attention to the fact that sometimes our desire for our “fair share” is not motivated by the right reasons. And having more is certainly not a guarantee of real happiness. What our hearts desire is real joy, something only Jesus can give us.
Recalibrate: Have you ever found yourself wanting more of what you already have enough of? What are some ways we can rely on Jesus more, and covet the things of the world less?
Respond: Pray that Jesus will be enough for all our needs and wants.
Research: Read Exodus 20:17 and consider why it was important for God’s people to not covet.
Remember: “Be careful and guard against all kinds of greed. A man’s life is not measured by the many things he owns.” —Luke 12:15 (ICB)
Sam Leonor loves his work as chaplain to the students and faculty of La Sierra University. His ministry is marked by a call to radical faith in Jesus. He loves finding ways to engage culture deeply for the sake of the Gospel. He has devoted his ministry to helping young adults bloom into a faith that is growing, mission oriented, and full of love.
While you hold your little one think about all the important things that you want to give them that you cannot buy, even if you had all the money in the world. Write them in words your child will understand.
Read the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. Why do you think Jesus told this story? Is there anything wrong with having too much stuff?
This story opens with a man telling Jesus to have his brother divide an inheritance with him. Have you ever found yourself telling Jesus what to do, rather than asking Him to do what He thinks is best? I know I have. Today, whatever you are going through, give it to Jesus and allow His will to be done.