Greedy for God
Sermon for CTSFW Seminary Sunday
“Greedy for God!” Text: Luke 12:13-21
Rev. Dr. Timothy R. Puls
Grace, mercy and peace, from God our father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen. Benjamin Franklin once said “money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one. If it satisfies one want, it doubles and triples that want another way.” Franklin finished by saying, “That was a true proverb of a wise man; rely upon it: ‘better is little with the fear of the Lord then great treasure, and trouble there with.’” Money cannot buy you happiness or real satisfaction. To think so is to be called a “fool!”
Jesus told this “parable of the rich fool” near Jerusalem at the end of His ministry. The large crowd flocked around; almost trampling one another. In this particular discourse someone interrupted Jesus; bringing up a personal grievance about an inheritance. While it was not uncommon for a rabbi to deal with legal matters Jesus states that His primary purpose is not to settle legal matters. However, He uses this opportunity to discuss dangers of greed and coveting material possessions.
3 things made this rich man foolish: 1) he thought nothing of God, 2) he thought only of himself, and 3) he never considered death. “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.” But God said “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded of you.” His “many years” were gone in a night.
How similar are people today? “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years!” Right, retirement awaits us all? Wrong, no one knows how long they will live. Yet, like this “rich fool” many people 1) think nothing about God, 2) think only of themselves and/or 3) they never consider death. There is very little investment in eternity. When I visited with some strangers in Colorado about 2 months ago they saw my Concordia shirt and asked me some spiritual questions at a restaurant. But the longer we talked the angrier they became. They were uncomfortable and defensive because they had very little knowledge of the Bible or Scripture. They were ignorant of truth because they had thought too little about God.
Many assume, as the rich fool did, that this life is all there is. The world says, “Make as much as you can to meet your every pleasure or comfort! Build bigger barns!” But if we think nothing of God and only think of self we too fail to be “GREEDY FOR GOD!” Is your life ever so filled things (house, properties, cars, stocks, family, spouse, kids, grandkids and) that we 1) think too little or nothing of God 2) think only of ourselves & 3) fail to consider death?
It is no wonder then why the church struggles within the wealthiest nation of the world! With all the resources Christians possess you would think we would have greater impact on our world! But congregations struggle, our missionaries must raise their own money and your Seminary must raise support. The problem, however, is not that we don’t have enough dollars to go around, but we fail to remember who we really are and that everything is the Lord’s! Baby Boomers, it is projected by the year 2054, that they will leave $88 trillion to others. As Dr. Luther says, “I believe that God has made me and all creatures and that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears and all my members, my reason and all my senses and still preserves them. Also clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle and all that I have to support this body and life.”
When I make visits in various places this truth is reinforced again and again for me by others. I was visited Charlotte near Chicago a month ago this wealthy widow said to me, “Pastor, please take this check…it’s the Lord’s anyway!” This woman knows that her wealth is not hers. Sure she manages it, but she knows that she was naked coming into the world and that she will take nothing with her when she dies. Another gal, Jane, in Wyoming did the same thing when she told me that she wanted to start and endowment for seminarian tuition support.
This parable of the rich fool encourages you and me to repent, to clean out the storage boxes of our lives and reprioritize. As St. Paul says in Colossians, “Set your hearts on things above not on earthly things!” God promises to take care of all of your needs and fill your life with His comforting peace, eternal meaning and divine guidance. The world tells you to store up for tomorrow, next year and retirement. However, you never know when your life will end. God, the very One who knows the numbers of hair on your head, also knows all the days appointed for you. Now he says, “Trust me, believe in me, depend on me! BE GREEDY FOR ME! Now is the day of salvation! Cast all your financial worries and cares regarding the future, today and your life upon my Son, Jesus Christ.” Cast all anxieties on Christ! “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” You do not know what tomorrow will bring, but knowing and believing in your Savior, Christ Jesus, you are very rich indeed.
Never forget the greatest riches which are yours because God poured them out for you. St. Paul says, “For… though he (Christ Jesus) was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” The Second Person of the Trinity, the Word who was rich in every way dwelling with the Father from all eternity, came in His flesh, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary all for you; all to serve you. The almighty, eternal God humbly entered human flesh and was born in an animal stall (with no place to lay His head) for one purpose – in order to make you Rich. The Heavenly Father made the greatest trade with all humanity when He offers His Son, Jesus, for all sin. Jesus gladly took all our selfishness, covetousness and idolatry and was nailed to the cross with it. He chooses to be the greatest sinner of all in order to make you righteous, holy and innocent. He pours out the riches of His blood not for Himself, but for poor sinners.
So now whenever you see this baptismal font, white cloths or paraments remember how rich you are! You are holy, righteous, and precious in Christ! You are not poor and hopeless, but rich and forgiven! Receive also, at this table, Jesus’ body and blood again assuring you that He is richly present with you now and always.
Dear friends, Life is truly fragile, so consider it soberly! Money can buy you a bed, but not sleep, it can buy books but not brains, it can buy food but not an appetite, it can buy a house but not a home, medicine but not health, amusement but not heaven. Lasting, eternal riches are yours only in Christ Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever – the Way, the Truth and the Life. Until He calls you home remember how rich you are and rejoice that He prepares an eternal place for you. That is being “GREEDY FOR GOD!” Amen.
Now be the peace of God, which passes all understanding and come keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.