Hello and welcome to Tuesday’s podcast. Whether you are on the way to work, to school, having breakfast with the kids, taking a break from revision or just finding 5 minutes in a busy day – our prayer is that God speaks to us through his word and that we are encouraged and inspired to live like him.
We’re in Luke’s Gospel. Much of this section of Luke’s account is Jesus speaking and teaching those that are following Him and those that he encounters on the road – essentially revealing to them what it looks like to live the God life, the life God created us to live.
As we looked at yesterday and indeed as we have been doing this year at STC, we see that God wants us to grow. To become more like Christ.
With that in mind, today we’re thinking about what it means to live a generous life.
Our reading today is Luke 12:1-21 which can hear read out in full at the end. Today’s focus verse is verse 15: 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.”
Jesus then tells a parable to illustrate his point. The story Jesus tells centres on a wealthy man, someone with an abundant harvest. In ancient Jewish culture, an abundant harvest would have been seen as a great blessing from God. However, rather than be generous with the bumper crop he now has, the rich man stores it all up. In fact, he even goes to the trouble of building bigger barns to store the entire extra produce that he has.
Here’s a question to consider: What stops us from being generous?
Jesus’ words to his disciples and to us today are this – Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.
Jesus, as he does throughout the Gospel, talks lots about possessions, about money, about what we have and how we are to view all of that. This parable focuses on a man who typifies the human condition, which is to want to acquire, to store up, to build up wealth. To make for ourselves a comfortable future. To look after number one. Whichever way you look at it, the focus is on me!
However as we can see from the end of this passage – this is not how God calls us to live. The rich man in the parable is rebuked for living this way and ultimately brought to judgement.
When our focus is us, looking after me, storing things up for ourselves, we can’t live generously. The two cannot go together. Jesus put it like this: No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
This passage asks us a question – Who are we serving?
When we are constantly seeking to serve ourselves, we run out of room for others and for God! What we see with this parable is a picture of a man who thinks he has lived well. That he has it all. He looks at his store houses stock piled high full of grains and goods and says – this is enough for me. But actually what does he have? His world although appearing big is actually a very small one. It’s just him and his stuff. There’s no mention of anyone else. There’s no room for them. And certainly, no room for God.
Why does God so desire that we live generously? Because it’s what he does. John 3: 16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his only son… God knows what it is to give. Jesus himself says that he came to serve and not to be served. If we want to learn what it is to live like Jesus, then being generous is a good place to start.
Proverbs 11:24 (The Message) says this: The world of the generous gets larger and larger: the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.
God desires that we grow – grow as people, grow as his church, grow his influence in the world. Being generous leads to growth. God’s act of generosity, of total sacrifice on the cross made a way for his revolution of forgiveness and love to spread. One act of generosity leads to another. We, as his followers, are called to play our part in making his generous love known this day.
Let’s finish today by considering where we could be more generous. Perhaps being generous with our time – spending time with someone who is struggling, generous with our gifts – serving others in our church, our workplace and being generous with our words – maybe thanking a teacher for a lesson today. Where and how can we look to live generously this day?
Lord Jesus, thank you that you love us and that you pour out blessing after blessing into our lives. You are so generous God. Thank you! Help us to follow you this day Jesus. To be a people who live generously. We ask that as we do this that we would see your influence grow in our lives and in the lives of others around us. Amen.
READING: Luke 12:1-21
Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.
‘I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
‘I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
‘When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.’
Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’
Jesus replied, ‘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.’
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 towards God.’