A CALL TO HIS OWN
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Allow your imagination to take you back to this moment, one of many where Jesus was addressing the disciples. Suddenly a man from the crowd interrupts Jesus by raising his voice. He requires Jesus to be an arbiter and to divide an estate which was due to him in an equitable way. We can understand the man saying to himself, if anybody is fair and honest, it would be Jesus. It is interesting to note that Jesus refuses to get involved. Instead, Jesus response was that life does not count in having many possessions. This incident would help the disciples to learn the lesson that life is more important than material things. To explain this teaching, Jesus told a parable about a rich man who said, "This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods." This man would have considered himself blessed. His fields yielded plentiful crops; too much to be stored in his barns so he decided to build bigger and better barns or some may say that he was expanding his business. Most would have admired him as a capable businessman. Cultures often value a person by what he or she possesses, whether it be money, influence or stature. But God called the man a fool. That very night he was to die, and all his wealth would go to others.
It teaches that what we care about most in practice is indicative of the priorities of our hearts. This means that what we do with our money shows what our hearts care about most."
What is the worth of a person’s life? Clearly that does not depend merely on it’s duration. It does not matter whether we are rich or poor, successful or unfortunate, clever or ‘dull.’ The secret and worth of one’s life consists in how faithfully we carry out our duty towards God and our fellowman. It has been said that, “The truth is that the value of life depends on what is done within its boundaries.” As for the ‘fool,’ he seems to claim ownership: “I will tear down my barns, I will store all my grain and my goods.” He seems to emphasize, “this is what I will do.” He failed to come to grips with the fundamental fact that God is the Owner and we are His stewards, managing His affairs. This passage of Scripture also contains one of the most frequently quoted verses about money. Verse 34 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” and gives a good reason for saying so. It teaches that what we care about most in practice is indicative of the priorities of our hearts. This means that what we do with our money shows what our hearts care about most. There are two things that Jesus’ words bring to our attention. Firstly, as Christ’s disciples we need not live in a state of anxiety. We can trust God for our physical needs. Secondly, our use of our material resources will reflect our commitment to God, and the extent to which our hearts are set on His kingdom and His righteousness (v. 31). If we treasure mere things, possessions, or wealth, then our hearts will easily be drawn away from God. Like the rich fool, we will seek meaning in things, and with our vision clouded. We’ll lose our way as disciples. As good disciples of Christ, we will feel called otherwise than by our earthly treasures or needs. Consider the following three calls that must weigh upon the true disciple’s mind.
A CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP
As a disciple, we are called, “…to present our bodies as a living sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1). Anyone who is a follower of Christ may be called to relinquish control of life, possessions, career, traditions and more. Sacrifice cannot remain an abstract concept. We must be willing to sacrifice anything that we value as essential to ‘life.’ As Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Discipleship and stewardship in the kingdom requires total allegiance. This is something that can be considered as going beyond us as individuals. It is also a call to us for a united step of faith, the presenting of ourselves as the body of Christ, as one ‘living sacrifice’ unto God.
A CALL TO WORSHIP
In Romans 12:2, Paul continues by saying that this living sacrifice, ‘Is your spiritual act of worship.” We worship God in the stewardship of our relationship to Him. “We worship and glorify God in the self-love that is the love of one created by God. We worship and glorify God in our selfless service to our neighbor. And we worship and glorify God in our care of creation….Worship happens in the local church, in the home, in the workplace and in the community.”1
“We worship God in every area of our lives. If giving is merely to a church, a ministry, or to a needy person, it is only charity; but if it is to the Lord, it becomes an act of worship.
“We worship God in every area of our lives. If giving is merely to a church, a ministry, or to a needy person, it is only charity; but if it is to the Lord, it becomes an act of worship. Because Jesus Christ is our Creator, our Saviour and our faithful Provider, we can express our gratefulness and love by giving our gifts to Him.”2
A CALL TO LOVE
Jesus told His disciples to do two things. First, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He concluded that in fact, “There is no greater commandment than these” (Mark 12: 30-31, NIV). In the book of Acts we see how disciples in the early church obeyed these commands of Christ by meeting in each other’s homes, in the way they ate together, encouraged one another, looked out for one another. Out of a caring relationship many people were won into the kingdom. The world we live in is different from the one Jesus calls us to live in, it operates on the premise of ‘me first.’ The ‘me first’ principle demands that I take care of my own wants first, like the ‘rich fool’ (Luke 12:13-21) and to forget the needs of others. Jesus calls us to a life lived with radically different motives and actions. As the early Christian church continued to grow and expand, the believers shared ‘everything they had’ because of their commitment to Jesus and because of human needs (Acts 4:32-35). This demonstrated not only their unselfish attitude towards material possessions but a distinguishing obedience to the ‘greatest commandment,’ by Christ’s own. How shall we obey that call in our world today? 1. Scott R. Rodin. Stewards in the Kingdom: A Theology of God in All Its Fullness, p. 167.
2. Howard L. Dayton, Jnr. Your Money Counts, p.74.