Nov. 21, 2021

Stuffed with nothing

Stuffed with nothing

You have all kinds of stuff with plenty of money, 2.5 kids, and the house with the white picket fence. Do you have it all or nothing? 

Greensburg Church of the Nazarene
31 Bluebird Lane, Greensburg, KY 42743

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**not a word for word transcript, but the sermon manuscript**



Normally, I begin the sermon with a story, joke, or some other method to stall for time as you search for the passage in your bibles. Today, I am starting with a disclaimer. And I want you to write it down, because if you accuse me saying these things I will give you a Luigi death stare.


This sermon is not against having wealth. It is not a message about taking all your stuff, selling it all and then giving all your money to the church. If God impresses that on you, that is fine. But that is not the intent of this message. Also, this message is not about pushing anyone toward a system of government. Write those down, remember them, or get a Luigi death stare.


READING THE TEXT: Luke 12:13-21


13 Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But Jesus said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, “I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (NRSV)


This is the Word of God, for the people of God, thanks be to God.




***Key verse***


The man who is asking to have the inheritance divided deserved to get a Luigi death stare from Jesus. In the section right before our text today, Jesus says “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (verses 6-7) Jesus finishes teaching “God will take care of you” and this man asks for his inheritance.


This is what prompts Jesus to say verse 15 to the man and the whole crowd. He says, “Avoid materialism! Life is not based on stuff.” That is our key verse for today. But before we can understand why it is our key verse, we need to know what is happening in the text.

***What is going on***


The man comes to Jesus in verse 13 because his father has died, and the inheritance is being divided. According to Jewish law (you can find this in Deuteronomy) the oldest was to get a double portion of the inheritance, then the others would get what was left. In this case, the man was objecting to how the inheritance was being divided. Why? It could have been the older brother was not sharing, or he was wanting more of what was not lawfully his. Anyway, you look at this, the man wanted more.


“Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” (v14) Jesus was not doing it. He was not concerned with how the legalities played out. This was Jesus telling everyone that the kingdom He was establishing was not of this world. The kingdom Jesus was establishing is more concerned about attitudes of the heart and how they impact relationships. Even if Jesus had ruled in favor of the man or his brother, that ruling would not have repaired the relationship.


***What Jesus wants us to picture***


Rather than address the man alone, Jesus speaks to the whole crowd. But even then, Jesus is rebuking the man in verse 15 by saying, “Avoid materialism! Life is not based on stuff.” Verses 16-21, Jesus is giving us a picture of his meaning by telling a parable.


The story begins in verse 16, sharing about a rich landowner. Nothing is said of how the landowner has gained his wealth, so we can assume the landowner has worked hard and was blessed by God. His land produces so much crop that his barns could not hold it all. What could solve this problem? Tear down his current barns and rebuild bigger and better ones.


This landowner is making some assumptions that we find in verses 18-19. “I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.” He believes that he will be able to manage the bigger barns and produce enough crop to store in them. Never mind the landowner has no control over the weather or any other variables that might impact the growth. Or even the demands on his own time. “I will say to myself, I have enough goods; relax, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.” On top of assuming he can manage bigger barns and all the uncontrollable factors would be in his favor, the landowner thinks he will have enough to simply kick back and enjoy the fruits of his labor.


God comes to the landowner in verse 20. And this is one of those places the English translation flowers up the true offensiveness of the words. The NRSV has God saying to the landowner, “You fool.” The less flowery way to take it is, “You egotistical idiot.” This is not because the man is rich. There is not an issue with that. However, the landowner was foolish because his focus was on riches and keeping them for himself. That night the landowner was called to face God, leaving behind all those riches. Who would get them? Echoes of Ecclesiastes 2:18-19, “I hated all my toil in which I had toiled under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to those who come after me—and who know knows whether they will be wise or foolish? Yet they will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun.”


And to connect with his comment in verse 15, Jesus adds in 21, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” Filling your life with stuff is a never-ending pursuit. And when you die, your kids and grandkids will fight over who gets to squander the most of it. There is no point to this life, nor pursuing it.




What Jesus is saying in verse 15 is, “Avoid materialism!” That is not truly living! But what the pursuit does reveal is who is truly being worshipped. If you are working hard and amassing stuff for you, then you are worshipping yourself. The landowner needed a bigger barn for what purpose? That way he could store enough stuff so he could relax, eat, drink, and be merry. The man came to Jesus about his brother, why? So he could get what was his, like that was the key to his life’s puzzle.


Jesus goes on in 15 to say, “Life is not based on stuff.” He rejects the man’s request to divide the inheritance because Jesus is refusing to satisfy the man’s greed. Instead, Jesus gives the man a new way to look at life. 


How does all this apply to my life and your life? It is the outlook Jesus gave the man, based on the kingdom of God. To live for the kingdom of God is to die to ourselves and take up new life in Jesus. That new life will not be based on the patterns you have learned from this world, but on the ways of God. There are two things based on this passage.


First, life is not valuable because of what you have. You have the big house with the white picket fence and two car garage, but that does not make your life valuable. It is not valuable because of how much money is in your 401k, nor because you have not missed a day of work in fifty-seven years. And is not even valuable because of the family you have dressed in matching outfits on your Christmas cards. Despite all your hard work, everything that you have is not a result of you. It is the result of God’s goodness and graciousness to you. Your life is valuable because God gave it to you and threw in all the other things because He can.


Second, your life will be measured based on how you use what you have. The stuff in your life is not for you to hoard, protect, or keep to yourself. That is greediness, the attitude of the man who came to Jesus about the inheritance. That is the attitude of the landowner when he decided to build bigger barns. Greed is the opposite of gratitude. An attitude of thanksgiving uses the stuff to bless God. How does one bless God? By blessing others. No motives attached, giving with a cheerful heart in faith and love. Using your stuff to do good works for others is storing up treasures in heaven. That is what it means to be rich towards God.




What about my stuff? Is your stuff the kind of things worth having? Valuing your life by? Or are you stuffed with nothing? If you have been living for yourself, a life stuffed with nothing, the good news is this: that life can be transformed today. God in His goodness has given you this day to turn things around.