Read Luke 12:13-21
It seemed like a simple request: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (v. 13). If we read no further, our hearts likely go out to the man. It sounds like the parents have passed away. In addition to their grief, siblings are experiencing a disagreement over the division of the inheritance. Apparently, this man was somehow being slighted in that division. That must have been painful.
But Jesus was less than sympathetic. He was neither a foster parent nor legal counsel who was positioned to resolve the issue. But there was a larger problem still. Hidden under the surface was another issue . . . greed. Maybe you did, but I didn’t pick up on it specifically in the question. That is part of the problem with it. Greed comes in different shapes and forms that are not always glaring. But it was obvious to Jesus, the One who knows the heart of man. And, because of its ability to disguise itself avoiding easy identification, Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed…”
Can greed really disguise itself? The very parable Jesus gave as an example illustrates that. In virtually any context other than the Bible, many who read this man’s story would herald him as a successful business man/farmer. They would applaud him as a wise investor. He would be cited as an example of one who had planned well for his retirement. They would laud him as one who deserved to enjoy life. They would excuse his commitment to relaxation and enjoyment as just part of what one does who has worked hard to get there. The man isn’t greedy! He is just living the American dream.
But Jesus’ warning against all types of greed causes us to recognize that our desire for money and things can distort our perspective on such things as inheritances, retirement, and so much more. At the end of the day, and certainly at the end of life, we must pose the question invited in Christ’s final statement:
“Am I just storing up things for myself or am I seeking to be rich towards God?”