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46 Luke 12.13-21

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Covetousness

v    Opening Illustration

A successful young man bought one his dream car: a Ferrari GTO. He took it out for a spin and stopped at a red light. An old man on a moped pulled up next to him. The old man looked over at the sleek, shiny car and asked, "What kind of car ya' got there, sonny?"

Proudly the young man told him "A Ferrari GTO. It cost half a million dollars."

"That's a lot of money," said the old man. "Why does it cost so much?"

"Because this car can go over two hundred miles an hour!" stated the young man smugly.

The moped driver asked, "Mind if I take a look inside?"

"No problem," replied the owner.

So the old man poked his head in the window and looked around. Sitting back on his moped, the old man said, "That's a pretty nice car, all right!"

Just then the light changed, and the young driver decided to show the old man just what his car could do. He floored it, and within thirty seconds the speedometer read 160 miles per hour.

Suddenly he noticed a dot in his rearview mirror. It was getting closer! He slowed down to see what it could be, and-whoosh-something whipped by him going much faster.

"What on earth could be going faster than my Ferrari?" the young man said. Then, ahead of him, he saw a dot coming toward him. Whoosh! It went by again, heading the opposite direction-and it looked like the old man on the moped.

Couldn't be, he thought, how could a moped outrun a Ferrari?

Once more, though, he saw the dot approaching in his rearview mirror, followed by a bang as the speeding object crashed into the back of his car.

The young man jumped out and saw the old man lying on the pave­ment. He ran to him and asked, "Is there anything I can do for you?"

The old man whispered, "Unhook... my suspenders. .. from your side-view mirror."

Ø     The young man in the story had a very materialistic heart

§        And that is the kind of person that Jesus confronts in our text today…

v    Remember the scene…

Ø     Jesus has come out of the house of the Pharisee

Ø     And a large crowd has gathered

Ø     Jesus turns to his disciples and tries to keep their eyes on God and not the crowds and popularity

v    At this point someone in the crowd once again interjects…

Ø     He shouts out an unrelated question

READ V. 13

 

Ø     Here Jesus was teaching on trusting God…

§        And this man shouts out a question regarding inheritance…money

·        Apparently his parents had died and his older brother was not willing to share the inheritance

¨     And Jesus sure didn’t appreciate the unrelated interruption!

 

READ v. 14

 

v    But at the same time he sees an opportunity to teach on a subject near to his heart…

Ø     The 10 Commandments

§        You see…

§        Many back in Jesus’ time thought that they are outdated, old, antiquated, useless

·        That they were for the Jews 1,500 years ago in the desert

¨     But Jesus reminded them of their importance when he answered the Pharisees question (Matt 22:36)

Ø     “What is the most important commandment?”

Ø     “Love God and Love neighbor”

¨     The 10 Commandments were the backbone of Jesus’ moral teachings

v    Illustration:

Ø     I listen to a radio program called White Horse Inn (explain)

§        Went to a Christian conference much like Congress

§        Asked people if they could name the 10 Commandments

·        Not one of them could

¨     Shocking! especially since these are the basic truths of the Christian faith

¨     And it is also sadly ironic

Ø     The same Christian community that is so outraged that they are being taken down from courthouses

§        Cannot even remember what they are

·        How can we be outraged at society

¨     When we care so little about them not to know them

v    What if the White Horse Inn came to our church?

Ø     How many of us could name the 10 basic truths of our faith?

§        Love God, No Idols, Lord’s name in vain, Sabbath, Honor, Murder, adultery, stealing, false testimony, Covet

v    I think in many Christian hearts today there is a little of this man’s attitude

Ø     Knowing of them, but certainly not hiding them in our heart

Ø     Knowing of them, while a part of our hearts believe they are antiquated, outdated, and were intended for the wandering Jews

Ø     Knowing of them, but not living them?

v    And that is what Jesus spies in this young man’s heart

Ø     A failure to live the 10th commandment

§        So he turns to the crowd in v. 15

READ v. 15

v    The word translated “greed” is “pleonexias” on the GK

Ø     It is also the word for “Covetousness”

§        Focusing in on the 10th commandment

·        #10 ~ Thou shalt not Covet

v    And here he gives a warning and a principle regarding covetousness or greed…

The Warning

v    Watch out for the temptation of greed

v    Be on your guard against greed

The story is told of an elderly Quaker who put up a sign on a vacant piece of property he owned that read, "I will give this lot to anyone who is really satisfied.

A wealthy farmer read it as he rode by and said to himself, “Since my Quaker friend is going to give this piece of land away, I might as well have it as anyone else. I am rich and have all I need, so I am well able to qualify.

He went up to the Quaker's door and, when the aged man appeared, the farmer explained why he had come.

"And you are really satisfied?” asked the owner of the lot.

"I sure am," said the farmer. "I have all I need, and I am well satisfied."

"Friend," said the Quaker, "if you are really satisfied, then what do you want with my lot?"

The question revealed the covetousness that was hidden in the man's heart.

Ø     You see…

§        Covetousness is something that many times we don’t even know is there

Many years ago a major American company had trouble keeping employees working in their assembly plant in Panama. The laborers lived in a generally agrarian, barter economy, but the company paid them in cash. Since the average employee had more cash after a week's work than he had ever seen, he would periodically quit working, satis­fied with what he had made.

The company came up with an insidious solution. In order to keep them working, the company gave every employee a Sears catalog. From then on no one quit because they all wanted the previously undreamed of things they saw in that book.

v    This is why Jesus says “Watch out!”

Ø     Many times we don’t even know that it is there!

Ø     That is why there are warnings against greed throughout Scripture

§        Eph 5:3

·        But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people

¨     Of all the sin that Paul could have listed to the church of Ephesus

Ø     He chose sexual immorality and greed

§        That should show us how serious it is!

§        Col 3:5

·        Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry

¨     This verse teaches us that covetousness/greed actually breaks two of the 10 commandments!

v    A covetousness heart is something that we all have to be on our guard against

Ø     So Jesus gives us a principle to remember…

The Principle

v    “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”

Ø     In other words…

§        Look beyond the here and now

§        Have a larger perspective

§        This life is not all there is

·        Illustration: Mother with Pappy

¨     If you look down all you see is

Ø     Gold, silver, bracelets, and things of this world

¨     If you look up

Ø     Love, peace and the Glory of God

Ø     That is the principle that Jesus is trying to teach us

§        Don’t look down…

·        Look up!

Ø     Jesus himself says in v. 21 (READ)

§        Don’t be rich down here…

·        Be rich up there

v    And to display this principle he told a parable

Ø     And as we look at this parable, let’s ask ourselves some hard, honest questions and see where our own hearts are in regards to covetousness

§        Let’s look first at the farmers dilemma…

The Farmer’s Dilemma (v. 16-17)

v    Jesus taught in the vernacular of his people

Ø     The people of Jesus’ day were predominately agrarian or farmers

§        If he were to teach us here today, perhaps he would use different analogies

·        Lobster fishing

·        Your investment portfolio

Ø     Here we have a bumper crop

§        More than the farmer can handle

·        In other words…

¨     Your lobster traps brought in 2,000 pounds of lobster each day all year

¨     Your investment portfolio just quadrupled this past year

v    Let’s ask ourselves the first hard question…

Ø     What is your reaction to the farmer’s dilemma?

§        What is your first thought?

Ø     If you are like me, you say…

§        I’d like to have this problem!?

·        But what does that reveal about our hearts?

¨     It reveals that we are keeping the eyes of our hearts cast down…

Ø     Not up!

Ø     What our first reaction should be is…

§        Glory be to God

·        You should see God’s generous fingerprints all over it

¨     Our first thought should be of God

Ø     We see this played out in the final chapter of John’s Gospel

·        John 21:4-7 ~ Miraculous catch of fish

¨     After the miraculous increase, Peter’s first thought was not of God

Ø     He did not even recognize Jesus…who told him to lower his nets on the other side!

§        Only after John recognized Jesus was Peter able to understand that it came from him

Ø     That happens to us many times, doesn’t it

§        The increase comes and our thoughts are far from God

·        Our eyes start looking around the world for what we need

¨     Our eyes are cast down…Not up!

v    Many times we are like the farmer

Ø     Putting our energy into making worldly plans and decisions

§        So let’s look at the farmer’s decision…

The Farmer’s Decision (v. 18-19)

v    Here the farmer is thinking outside the box…literally!

Ø     Build bigger storage barns

§        In today’s vernacular…

·        Buy more traps

·        Buy a bigger boat to haul the lobsters

¨     Bigger storage tanks

¨     Another sterns man

·        Open up another mutual fund or two

¨     Put it in long term, high-yield bonds

¨     Move to a state that has no inheritance tax

v    Let’s ask ourselves the second hard question…

Ø     What is your reaction to the farmer’s decision?

§        What’s your first thought?

Ø     If you are like me, you think…

§        Makes good financial sense

§        That is shrewd business

·        Save it for later

¨     After all…

Ø     “A penny saved is a penny earned”

·        Saving for a secure future

·        He is taking care of number one!

v    Don’t misunderstand…

Ø     The Scriptures encourage us to be good stewards of our money and plan for the future

§        1 Tim 5:8

·        If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

§        Miracle of loaves and fishes – gathers leftovers so that they are not wasted

v    However, we have to see the farmer’s decision for what it is…

Ø     Motivated out of selfish greed and covetousness

§        How do I know this?

·        Let’s look at the Farmer’s desire…

The Farmer’s Desire (v. 18-19)

v    In verse 19 the farmer says…

Ø     (I) have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry

v    Let’s ask ourselves the third hard question…

Ø     What is your reaction to the farmer’s desire?

§         What’s your first thought?

·        That is the life!

·        The man has success, satisfaction, and security!

¨     This is what we all work towards in retirement, isn’t it?

v    Two things pop out when we look at what the farmer desires

Ø     First, notice the personal pronouns he uses

§        Read with stress

·        His thoughts are only for himself

Ø     I, I, I…Me, me, me…My, my, my

Ø     Second, notice his plan is only for himself

§        “You have plenty of good things stored up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry.”

·        That is what a covetous heart does…

¨     It think one dimensionally

¨     It thinks in terms of I, me and my

v    If we take it as fact that all increases come from the Lord

Ø     Then we have to ask one question…

§        Why does the Lord give us increases?

Ø     There are several reasons Scripture gives us

§        But it all boils down to one…

·        In order to enable us to be like him

¨     God is a generous God

Ø     Gives and gives and gives

¨     To be generous like God is the goal of each and every Christian

Ø     To be more and more like Jesus Christ

§        You see…

·        Generosity is a mark of Godliness

Ø     Prov 21:26 says…

§        All day long (the covetous person) craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing.

·        According to this verse, generosity is a indicator of righteousness

 

Ø     But covetousness and greed…

§        An “I, me, my” attitude

§        Eyes that look only at this world and not the next

·        These are marks of an empty life

v    And that is what Jesus is trying to show us through the farmer’s death…

The Farmer’s Death (v. 20-21)

v    Look at v. 20-21

Ø     Matt 6:19-21 says…

§        Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

v    The last question we have to ask ourselves today is…

Ø     Where is your treasure?

§        Is it here or in heaven?

§        Are your eyes cast down or up?

§        Are you rich in the eyes of men or God?

Ø      1 Tim 6:9-10 tell us that covetousness and greed is a deadly, deadly trap for the Christian

§        People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

·        Some people give up eternity for money

¨     Through this parable, Jesus teaches us that we can grab hold of this earth so tightly

Ø     We give up the next

There is an old method for catching raccoons. Place a piece of tin foil inside a small barred box that is staked to the ground. When a raccoon comes by, he will reach his paw into the box to get the foil. But once he has grasped the foil, his clutched paw will not fit back through the bars on the box. The raccoon is trapped by his own greed. Many times a raccoon would rather give up his freedom and his life, just for the sake of a shiny but useless piece of foil

v    What Jesus is trying to teach us in this parable is…

Ø     Don’t give up eternity for the sake of a shiny piece of foil!


v    Notes:

A recent statistic showed that in the United States, a crime is committed every three seconds and a murder is committed every half hour. Millions of children are victimized by kiddie pornography. There are hundreds of magazine titles dealing with child pornography, let alone the filth that is available through the Internet. Every year, there are a quarter of a million child abuse victims. An estimated ten per cent of the U.S. population is addicted to cocaine. There are millions of alcoholics in the U.S., and thousands of people die on our highways each year because of liquor, not to mention the other alcohol related deaths. Teen suicide and pregnancy are major problems as well as sexual abuse and rape. Millions of women around the world will be sexually abused this year.

I share the above statistics because there are some people who believe that the Ten Commandments are out of date, and are not relevant for today. If the Ten Commandments had been kept, we wouldn't have committed these sins in our nation and there would be no statistics to report such as this. Therefore, the Ten Commandments are not out of date today. They are very much in date and are needed today so that healing and wholeness can come to our world.

Ø     Of the 31,071 verses in the bible

§        2078 are devoted to money

§        15% of what Jesus teaches has to do with money

v    At this point, Jesus has had a long day!

Ø     Starts back in 11:14 with Jesus driving out a mute demon

§        Some from the large crowd accuses him of being Satan

§        Some from the crowd want more proof

·        He takes that opportunity to teach them about the spiritual kingdom

Ø     He them is invited to lunch by a Pharisee

§        Who gives him dirty looks when he doesn’t ceremonially wash his hands

·        So Jesus tales this opportunity to warn them about their empty faith

Ø     Jesus then goes out and a large crowd had gathered once again

§        He looks at his disciples and teaches them with the crowd listening in

·        He encourages them…

¨     To place fear on the proper person…God

¨     To acknowledge God before men

¨     Not to worry about what they will say

v    Proverbs is a book that concerns itself with how to live a righteous life

§        1) In order to show us his character

·        God Gave Israelites Promised land

¨      Josh 24:13

Ø     So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

¨     God gives us spiritual gifts

¨     God gives us daily bread

Ø     We serve a giving God!

·        2) In order to show us his love

¨     John 3:16

Ø     For God so loved the world, he gave his only son…

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