Read Luke 12:13-21
Following Jesus…What is it really? This “bigger barns” story certainly gives us some good insights about what it is not. In short, it is not equivalent to many of the values that are ingrained in our minds from a young age. Now, let’s look at the more detailed version of that conclusion.
- Following Jesus is not equated with individual justice. Did the man have a legal right to a larger chunk of the inheritance than he had received? It is very possible, but Jesus was more concerned about the man’s underlying greed than his just legal rights.
- Following Jesus is not compatible with personal pride. On the one hand, the text is clear that the rich man’s land had been very productive (v. 16). Of course, we know that God is the source of a fruitful harvest (Acts 14:17). Unfortunately, the man in the parable seems to be quick to claim the credit (Lk. 14:17).
- Following Jesus is not defined by selfish hoarding of resources. The man in the parable builds bigger barns to house his abundance. There seems to be no understanding of the principle of generous stewardship for a greater purpose.
- Following Jesus is not characterized by a “me mentality.” The man in the parable seems to have clocked out and made life all about his own enjoyment. Enjoyment isn’t bad, but those who follow Jesus are more concerned about investment.
The tragedy at the end of the story was two-fold. First, the man left things behind (v. 20)…perhaps only to continue the same complaint that began the discussion – someone worried about their share of the inheritance. Is leaving something behind for loved ones wrong? Not necessarily. What if, however, we are more strategic in using the resources while we are alive?
The second tragedy was that the man was so focused on a temporal, selfish treasure (v. 21). He did not seek to honor God with his time, energy, and resources and thus accumulate any kind of heavenly treasure. Following Jesus neither focuses on self nor does it clock out into “ministry retirement.” We must heed the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58:
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”