I’ll admit that there have been a good number of times when I walked into a church gathering to hear from the Lord where I was more focused on how to work out a financial situation in my life for my self-serving benefit. So focused, in fact, that I missed out on the full impact of what the Lord was trying to get across to me in the speaker’s message.
In Luke 12, a similar situation took place and Jesus used a distraction imposed by someone else to teach some profound spiritual truths. That chapter begins with Christ laying out how believers should spiritually navigate in the world when they deal with God-haters while trying to please God simultaneously (v. 1-12). It was a moment when the disciples were assured by the Lord Jesus that God had their backs no matter what.
Christ’s profound message went right over the head of one man in the audience. In that day, the eldest son was typically in charge of the family estate. Apparently, the man was a younger brother who felt he got shorted out of his inheritance and was so self-absorbed he failed to hear Christ’s message about the Father looking out for his own. He quickly interjected his plea for the Lord Jesus to act on his behalf to make his older brother give him more material possessions from their estate (v. 13).
Christ’s answer implies he was offended by the request when he bluntly rebuked the man by saying, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (v. 14). The Lord then went on to give another profound statement with real life examples to back it up when he said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth,” (v. 15).
God had already set up the “powers that be” to take up the man’s case through government judges, but the man was so full of greed and envy that he was deceived into thinking it was the Lord’s obligation to take care of his personal, self-serving vendetta against his brother. After the Lord’s swift rebuke against covetousness, in verses 16-40 he taught the parable of the rich fool to show that one’s relationship with the Lord was of the utmost importance rather than acquiring worldly material wealth.
As a matter of fact, the kingdom of God is so important, according to Christ, that it should provide us with the willingness to give generously to the poor (v. 33) while trusting that God will cover our needs (verses 28-30). Therefore, from time to time I have to ask myself, “Am I more attached to material possessions than to God? Could I easily sell anything I own and give the proceeds to the poor?” Ultimately, I want to be in a place where I avoid covetous distractions that prevent me from hearing what the Lord is really saying to me.