A man once came to Jesus and asked him to settle a dispute between him and his brother. But instead of resolving things as the man had wished, Jesus turned the conversation in a completely different direction. He chose to address the more immediate issue of greed. As always happens when Jesus addresses the heart, our eyes are opened so that our understanding about something we thought we understood is radically changed. We don’t think of greed as wanting make sure that we are treated fairly. We don’t consider ourselves greedy when we make financial security our highest priority. But Jesus does!
Greed is easy for us to point out in others: someone reaching for that extra helping of food, someone stopping at nothing to put more money in the bank, someone who refuses to share even a little of what he has acquired. These instances of greed are easy to identify. But here Jesus defines greed as wanting security from the treasures of earth rather than from the treasures of heaven.
Jesus redirected the man’s concerns to his real problem. He had a flawed view of eternity. He illustrated this in two parts. First he tells the man that his life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Possessions do not offer true security. Then Jesus declares that earthly treasures have no eternal value. To make this second point Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool. The man had earned abundant earthly treasure. His barns were full of grain. But his foolish error was that he looked with greed upon his possessions. Greed ultimately means looking to your own possessions to do what only heavenly treasurer can do. Greed means you think you can do for yourself what only God can do — only God can make you secure!
Christ reorients your thinking about greed. It is a vital lesson for you and your children. Greed is finding security in having your own toys or in having earthly investments. This is the message of Luke 12. Greed distracts from true treasure, from true security. Focusing on earthly treasure for security blinds you and me to what is really valuable. Jesus called the man who trusted in his treasure a fool because he stored up things for himself but was not rich towards God.
The rich fool forgot that he, like each of us, is only a heartbeat away from eternity. May God grant that we would turn from greedily trusting in our possessions and become rich towards God.