Making the Smart Investment
July 16, 2023

Parables to Live By

“Making the Smart Investment”

Luke 12:13-21

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Parables to Live By

“Making the Smart Investment”

Luke 12:13-21

We live in a society that is pulverized under the weight of wrong priorities, crushed by debt, and pinned under a mountain of materialism. And what happens is that all this stuff blocks our vision of reality and causes us to miss out on the life God has so graciously given to us.

Such was the case with one man who interrupted Jesus as He was talking about hypocrisy, about how much God cares and values us, and how we need to make an open confession of Him before others.

But this man wasn’t there to listen to Jesus’s wisdom; rather, He wanted Jesus’s help in the matter of inheritance.

He cried out, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” (Luke 12:13 NKJV)

This guy wasn’t interested in the truth Jesus was sharing. He wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention; instead, he was consumed with his own financial condition.

But why come to Jesus with this request? The answer is found in Jesus’s designation as a teacher or Rabbi. You see, Rabbis were knowledgeable of the Law, and as such were expected to investigate and were considered qualified to judge ethical matters. And so, this man was appealing to Jesus’s authority and knowledge of the Law to force his brother to comply.

But Jesus responded, “‘Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?’ Then he said to them, “’Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.’” (Luke 1:14-15 NKJV)

And in saying that, Jesus recused Himself from judging between the two, instead he chose to get to the heart of the matter, or the root cause of this man’s problem. You see, this man was preoccupied with the wrong thing because his desire was greed based. Jesus then goes on to establish his point through the parable we’ll be looking at today.

The Parable of the Rich Fool

And He told them this parable: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, you have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 NKJV)

The message is simple: “Spiritual poverty occurs when our satisfaction depends upon the accumulation of stuff.”

Therefore, it would be wise for us to evaluate our desires in light of what Jesus says in this parable. Now, there are several warning signs this parable reveals, that is, those ways we find our satisfaction other than in the Lord, or as Jesus puts it, when someone is not rich towards God.

The first warning sign is when our savings crosses over into hoarding.

1.  Our Savings Crosses into Hoarding

Hoarding is what the rich man was doing. The success he experienced brought him to one conclusion, “Where am I going to store it all?” He thought of nothing else or no one else but himself, and not of those that he could help.

Nor, did he consult God as to what God may have wanted him to do, forgetting it was the Lord who gave him the ability to gain wealth.

The Bible says, “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18a NKJV)

This man’s entire thought was in stockpiling for his future. The barns he already had were filed with crops, so in his mind they must now be torn down to make way for bigger and better barns that could hold more.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with saving, it’s the proper and prudent thing to do, but savings can become dangerous for our spiritual health and wealth when it develops into hoarding.

How can we tell?

  • When our savings go beyond what we can reasonable use, and for those rainy-day unexpected expenses.
  • When what we have over our own needs is needed by others.
  • And anything that goes to waste in storage.

We need to be careful not to allow our desire to save, which again is proper on our part, doesn’t move into greed. But, when our saving becomes hoarding it is a sign that we’re finding our satisfaction in the wrong place, which in the end will result in our spiritual poverty

The second warning sign is when our goal is self-indulgence

2. Our Goal is Self-Indulgence

As a way of contrast, let me tell you the story of Oseola McCarty, who at the age of 87 retired from her personal laundry business. She would do the laundry for the wealthy in her hometown in Mississippi. It was all she knew, being pulled out of school in the 6th grade to care for an ailing family member and help her mom with the laundry.

McCarty is now famous for her laundry, but not in the way that we would think. After she retired, she asked her banker how much she had saved, and the amount was staggering. $250,000.00. But she didn’t hoard it or use it exclusively upon herself.

She said, “I had more than what I would use in the bank, and I can’t carry anything away from here with me, so I thought it was best to give it to some child to get an education.”

So, she gave $150,000.00 to the University of southern Mississippi to help African American youth to attend college to help others gain what she lost. For this act, she was interviewed by Barbara Waters, CNN, People magazine, and many more where she eventually was given the Presidential Citizenship Award.

To all of this she says, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.

McCarty is what you might call the antithesis of the rich man in Jesus’s story. The whole story if you notice is in the first person, “I will do this, and I will do that.” It isn’t that his success was wrong, nor the productivity of the land, for as the Lord says, He’s the one who brings the rains to prosper the land. Further, there’s no hint of dishonestly as to how he came by his wealth, rather it is about his self-indulgence.

A self-centered approach to life is a real threat to spiritual riches. And I need to point out that there is nothing wrong with having a good time, it’s when the focus slips and our purpose is on our own pleasure. It was this same attitude that the Apostle James attacks in speaking to those who were rich with the goods of this world.

“You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.” (James 5:5 NKJV)

Again, there is nothing wrong with saving for our retirement, but our goal should never be to kick back and do nothing, but rather it should be to continue to serve God.

The third sign that we’re heading towards spiritual poverty is when our planning become presumptuous.

3. Our Planning Becomes Presumptuous

The rich man was full of presumptuous planning. He was counting on a long life, but no one can guarantee what tomorrow may bring, or, for that matter, what will happen before this day is out. The rich man assumed that he knew what the future would be.

And we all do that to some extent or another. The mistake the rich man made is not taking God into consideration or making God a part of the equation.

It was this attitude; it was this sort of planning which the Apostle James talks about as being somewhat foolish on our part. Look at what he says.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;’ whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:13-17 NKJV)

There is a difference between goal setting and presumptive planning. We must be careful not to plan as though nothing will stop us. What we should realize is that we are completely dependent upon God’s grace, and whatever plans we make must be within His purposes, which is what Jesus told us to pray for, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

The rich man couldn’t guarantee tomorrow, and neither can we, so let’s start taking God and His word into consideration, otherwise what we are doing is arrogantly declaring that we’re in command of our own destiny.

The fourth warning sign is when our ownership goes unquestioned.

4. Our Ownership Goes Unquestioned

Back when Mark McGwire hit his career home run, it landed outside Chicago’s Wrigley field where a crowd was waiting for the possibility that the ball might come their way. Well, when the ball came flying over the fence everyone started piling upon each other. When the police arrived and separated this enthusiastic group of people, the person who came out of the pile with the ball was served with papers from another member of that crowd who claimed that the ball was taken out of his hands. A bite on his hand was exhibit A.

But think about it with me. Neither of these guys did anything for that ball, and neither bought a ticket to see the game. They hadn’t thrown the ball, nor did they hit the ball, but both sought legal possession. McGwire who had hit it may have claimed rights to it, or the league who actually purchased the ball. And so, these two men fought a physical and legal battle over an object which in the truest sense of the word wasn’t theirs to begin with.

In a sense the same thing is true concerning the rich man in Jesus’s story. For all his excitement about what he had received, never once was there any consideration or remembrance for the Giver of those gifts. He saw himself as the sole possessor and proprietor. He considered everything as his own personal possession, and there was no consciousness of this dependence upon God for what he received.

Again, I go to the Apostle James who said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” (James 1:17 NKJV)

Douglas Beyer, in his commentary said, “Life is a stewardship, not an ownership.” Whatever we have, God has entrusted to our care. We have no outright ownership of anything, and when we fail to recognize that, it is a sign that we’re finding our satisfaction in the accumulation, and not in God.

The final warning sign is when we see wealth as material instead of spiritual.

5.   Seeing Material Wealth as Spiritual

All of the rich man’s wealth was in the material world; there was no spiritual investment of any kind. Therefore, Jesus concludes His story with this statement.

“So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21 NKJV)

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave a similar warning.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV)

How can we store up for ourselves treasure in heaven? By depending upon God while we’re here on earth. Biblical commentator, Henry Ironsides said, “If you do not have Christ, you are miserably poor.” Therefore, it begins with coming into that saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and what He did for us upon the cross, dying in our place so our sins could be forgiven so that we can have that eternal life.

For this rich man in Jesus’s story, and then for the man who interrupted Jesus with his own desire for the finances he thought were his, their wealth was in the wrong place.

Let me say it this way, when we can point to our stock portfolios, investment properties, bank balances more than we can identify our spiritual riches, then we are on some dangerous ground.


Let me end our time together by telling you a story about a man named Chuck. I knew him as he was growing up. He was a youngster in our church school. I’ve known both he and his family for a very long time. He was on the fast track in the casino industry becoming one of the youngest vice presidents within a casino property. Everyone knew of him, and many hotel properties wanted him. But in the end, he gave up the life and large paycheck and went to work at a local church becoming its administrator. It was such a drastic move that the Review Journal wrote a story concerning it, and it made local headlines.

Chuck counted the costs and made the choice, even though it cost him. Needless to say, he took a huge pay cut, but made an investment in his and other people’s future. You might say he made a wise investment in heaven.

Today, let’s consider our investment portfolios. Are they filled with material stuff, and little in the way of spiritual? Where are we investing our future?

Let me end with what we looked at earlier.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV)

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