Lord Jesus, give us the Spirit’s grace to hear what You speak. Amen.
Text: Luke 12:16–21
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
You know this parable of the Lord from your Bible history, and, of course, you are careful not to talk like this rich landowner. But all who rely on their own goods and are secure because they have enough are like this man. How difficult it is to have abundance! It is easy to think that we believe in God, and yet not realize how much we rely on the world! It seems completely certain that rich people have their heart in the right place, but in reality only very few do. Without our knowing it, the poor mind becomes stuck on earthly possessions. So secretly it relies on these instead of on God. Therefore it is grace when the Lord, as necessary, lays hold of our goods, takes them away, all of them or some of them, as much as He knows we can handle, to teach us to recognize our idolatrous trust in mammon and to free us from it. If on the other hand everything were according to your desires, then if your goods were multiplied, your obligations are multiplied and unfortunately you do not know then, dear friend, how to examine yourself, and earnestly to pray to God for light and grace concerning this. For either you are one of the few who can have riches without buckling under them, in which case you will have other troubles, or you are of those who take your goods here in this life and gather them as treasures, but are not rich toward God. But then the end is terrible. “You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?” “This night!” O listen: already this night! – “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, till there is no place Where they may dwell alone in the midst of the land! … Therefore Sheol1 has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure; their glory and their multitude and their pomp, and he who is jubilant, shall descend into it” (Isa 5:8.14).
But all who are poor and not satisfied, envious of the rich and full of worries, or greedy and living off of others, they have no right to glory over the rich man in our text! They themselves are partners with this cursed peasant. – Let all the Lord’s people hear and follow the holy Apostle’s words: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Tim 6:10-12). Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, brethren, 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 (Mat 6:19-21).
Teach us, O God, to believe in You with our whole heart and to use our abundance in love to help the needy. Amen.
Amid the world’s deceitful cares
Thou dost not heed how unawares
Thy day of life is ending!
Secure thou livest, strong and wise,
The world pursuing, ’tis the prize
For which thou art contending: –
O man, O man! The end draws near!
Thy life thou art expending!
While here thou toilest at thy best,
Death comes, an uninvited guest –
His summons is appalling –
The most secure awakes with fears,
And for the wise no way appears
The strongest then is falling: –
O man, O man! Death thee and all
Away from earth is calling!
Gothus, Wallin L 456:1-2 LHy 391:1-2 tr. C. Døving;
tune: I denne Verdens Sorger sænkt (LHy 391); alternate hymn: Christians, come in sweetest measure ELH 411