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Luke 12:1 -- 31

Lesson audio

A recurring theme in the Bible is that of the paradox. There are so many things that are “obvious” and yet, paradoxically, not true. We find our lives by losing them. Christ explains the phenomenon here. Those who are diligently seeking this world will find it – and find nothing. Those who seek first the kingdom of God find this world wrapped in it.


Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. "But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. "Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops. "I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. "But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! "Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. "Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. "And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. "When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."

(Luk 12:1-12 NASB)

You will kindly recall that this comes immediately after Christ’s warning to the lawyers and the Pharisees concerning their hypocrisy. To understand why he would jump from the “leaven of the Pharisees” into a discourse on courage in public speaking, we must understand the effects of hypocrisy:

  • It is clear that hypocrisy causes the evil man to hide his evil from prying eyes.
  • It takes more thinking, but reflect on your own experience: doesn’t hypocrisy also cause the good man to hide his goodness?

Hypocrisy is intimidating. One way that it spreads is by intimidating those who aren’t hypocrites. So we must therefore deal with fear – in particular, fear of what people will think when we speak out.

Dealing with fear

The first thing we must recognize is this: there is no escape from this. Christ forces the Great Divide; you are either with him or against him. You have to choose: be intimidated or speak up.

That’s important to our understanding of the question. Most of us would like three options here, the third being to get along and go along. But that option simply doesn’t exist. Either you will find yourself speaking up whether or not you want to, or you will find yourself silent. So it is between those two options you must choose.

To help you make up your mind, Christ reveals some things you might need to know:

  • First, if this is a matter of fear, just who should you be afraid of? The worst thing this world can do to you is kill you. God can do that too. He can also send you to hell. Sometimes it helps to know which bear is bigger.
  • Next, everything is going to be revealed eventually, if only at the Last Judgment. All those secrets are going to be exposed publicly. So what do you want the Lord to see; what do you want to show to the world then? A sneaking hypocrisy or a life that was consistently loyal to him?
  • If you don’t become a witness for him, he will disown you.
God’s care

So far it sounds like picking which way you’d like to get beat up – hammer or crowbar. But please understand that God knows that problem, and has therefore said that he will care for you.

  • If you do testify for him, Christ will attest that you are one of his – on the day it really counts.
  • Since you have fear in this world, he will care for you, letting his perfect love cast out your fear.
  • Indeed, he specifically tells us here that he will give us help in time of need – in public speaking.

But sometimes it isn’t fear that keeps us from testifying for him.


Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions." And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. "And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' "Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

(Luk 12:13-21 NASB)

More common than you might think

Mention the word “greed” and you will get some bemused reactions. Most people are of the opinion that they are not greedy; indeed, ask around: do you know anyone you’d call greedy? Maybe one or two, but most of the people you know are not greedy – by our definition. We define greed as a sin against other people – taking the bottle from the baby to drink it yourself. But greed much more commonly is a sin against your own soul.

That’s why Christ warns us against “every form of greed.” Let me give you three such forms:

  • The simple desire for “more.” More what? More anything, actually, but usually we see it with money.
  • There is also the desire for “the most.” This form of greed is not content with more; others must have less, as well.
  • There is also the refusal to be content; “not that I’m greedy but…” Whatever we have does not satisfy; even if more is beyond possibility.

So often we see these. Spectacular greed is rare; but the greed of “just a little bit more” is always with us.

The antidote to greed

Greed afflicts people because they believe that “more is better.” But is it?

  • It won’t help you when the Day of Judgment arrives – unless you gave it away.
  • You can’t take it with you; there are no pockets in a shroud.
  • Even if you have great wealth, there are still problems.

Be on your guard against greed; it sneaks up on you. But what can you do to prevent it? Recognize the futility of riches. But there is an even better way.

Rich towards God

Money, after all, is simply a tool. It is one we pursue, but one which we should not let master us. The easiest way to stay away from this trouble is to put the right stuff in the right place. We need to be “rich towards God.”

What does that mean? John Wesley put it in simple terms:

  • We live in faith.
  • We abound in good works.
  • We are filled with love.

All these things God prizes in us; therefore, to have them is to be rich towards God.

Teaching the Disciples

Christ now turns his attention away from the crowd and back to his disciples. It is interesting to note that this seems to be something like additional reinforcement of the lesson for them. It’s as if they needed an extra dose.

And He said to His disciples, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. "For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! "And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life's span? "If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. "But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! "And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. "For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. "But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

(Luk 12:22-31 NASB)

Christ now puts things plainly. The parable is for the crowd; the explanation is for the disciples. Why?

  • For one thing, the world can’t handle it. Until they have the Spirit, who would be such a fool as to try this?
  • For the other, there is no choice. This is the way a disciple of Christ must live. Nothing else will do.

So what’s the big point for the disciples? Simple; don’t worry. Why?

  • Because life is more than the things of this world. It is more than another cold beer and a bag of chips.
  • Because worrying doesn’t do any good. You can’t change your lifespan by so much as an hour with it.
  • Finally, because God wants you to trust him. Worry is the opposite of trust in God.

Here’s the test of faith: do you believe that God will provide? I can certainly testify that he has done so for me. He is able to arrange all things through his providence, and his providential care for me has indeed been gracious and kind. He knows what I need – which often is not what I want.

It is the Great Divide. Either you will trust him or you will go it alone. He will do all he can to move you to trust him, but always: He leaves you the choice. Trust him; and don’t worry about it anymore.

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