“Jesus told a story about a rich man who made a fool of himself by the way he handled his money … Luke 12:16-21 …
The first mistake a fool makes with his money is relying on man’s reason and not God’s revelation. Verse 17 tells us the man “began reasoning to himself.” He looked around at his bumper crop and began considering what he should do with his excess. I give him credit for asking the question, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?” The problem is that he never sought the wisdom and counsel of God on the matter …
The second mistake a fool makes with his money is hoarding his surplus rather than sharing it with others. The most surprising twist in the parable comes when the prosperous landowner decides to implode his old grain silos and build new and bigger ones to make room for his surplus. Maybe he thought it was good business to tear down the old and build new and bigger barns…Good business decision or not, greed motivated the man’s actions in Jesus’ story …
The third mistake a fool makes with his money is acting like an owner and not a steward. Read Luke 12:17-19 again. This time circle the words “I”, “me”, and “mine”. Now count the number of times the man uses one of those personal pronouns. If your math is like mine, you will come up with eleven times in three sentences. Whew! Have you ever seen the likes of somebody whose whole world revolves around himself? The overuse of personal pronouns is always a dead giveaway to this malady …
The fourth mistake a fool makes with his money is living with time and not eternity in view. The rich man in this parable boasts about living the Epicurean lifestyle of instant gratification. “Soul,” he says with unbridled confidence, “you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (v. 19). Tragically, what he did not factor into his self-centered, materialistic philosophy of life was the “for tomorrow you die” part … It is too easy to live your life and spend what you think is your money with no reference or thought of eternity.”
Ron L. Jones in Jesus, Money, and Me: Discovering the Link Between Your Money and Your Faith (Lincoln: iUniverse, 2004) 8-13.
This year and beyond, let us be sure not to make the four mistakes fools make. Instead may we seek God’s wisdom on handling money, share financial surplus with others in need, act like stewards, and live with eternity in view.
I am off to Florida today to share thoughts like these with fellow believers. Undoubtedly, some of them think I am coming to talk about fundraising.
On the contrary, my aim is to aid them as stewards to avoid making foolish decisions, and instead, use what they have to participate in God’s work while rallying others to join them … not because of what they want from them, but what they want for them.
Luke 4:18-19 alludes to the sabbatical year of Jubilee when the afflicted will be shown generosity, when all slaves are freed, debts canceled, the blind see, and prisoners are released … The Jubilee good news Jesus speaks of in Luke 4:19 is the “year of the Lord’s favor” and is an allusion to Isaiah 61:1-2 in which God’s promises to show his favor to the afflicted through Jubilee generosity. The good news of Isaiah 61:1-2 meant the restoration of land and livelihood to the afflicted–bad news to those who had plenty unless they embraced the message and shared material wealth…
Jesus calls for generous sharing as a form of countercultural witness to the human urge to compete, acquire, and consume … Jesus challenged his audience to think more deeply about the truly “afflicted” and so consider their own responsibility for the existence of real affliction in their own land.”
Mark Bredin in The Ecology of the New Testament: Creation, Re-Creation, and the Environment (Colorado Springs: Biblica, 2010) 47-48.
Today I am celebrating God’s jubilee generosity.
For me personally, today also marks the end of 50 days with minimal travel. The family time has been priceless. I’ve also enjoyed the gift of time to reflect on God’s generosity to us in Jesus and the jubilee generosity that He desires to make known through us, His followers. Candidly, this season of reflection has been simultaneously refreshing and convicting for me. I have come to realize that as a recipient of God’s generosity, my participation with God in His work bears fruit when I live like Christ and does not bear fruit when I live like the culture.
I came to this awareness through blocks of time set aside for solitude and writing. During my jubilee, by God’s grace I wrote a 122-page biblical stewardship curriculum for use in colleges and seminaries entitled, Faith and Finances. In this curriculum, I repeatedly contrast what the Word teaches vs. what the world teaches to help Christ-followers understand Jesus’ teachings and do what He says. In doing the research for this project, the Spirit showed me areas in my own life where there was work to be done, so I conclude my jubilee with this prayer for myself and readers of these daily mediations:
Father in heaven, work in our lives by your Holy Spirit so that through us, your jubilee generosity will flow richly and represent a countercultural witness for Christ. Make it so in our lives this year and beyond, we pray. Amen.
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