Saturday, October 21, 2023

True Treasure - Luke 12:32-34 - October 22, 2023

 Luke 12:32-34 True Treasure

Good morning! Turn with me in your Bibles to Luke 12:32-34, page 871 in the pew Bibles.

Over the last few weeks we have been dealing with Jesus’ teaching on greed and worry, both ideas wrapped up in material things and materialism. This morning we’re going to be looking at Jesus’ summary statement on this teaching and what might look at first like a warm hug just might turn into a kick in the pants.

Let’s look at our text together.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Let’s pray.

I like verse 32, verse 32 is great. It’s like a warm hug from Jesus.  “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Sometimes you need a warm word like that… Fear not, little flock… I just love the idea of sitting there with Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and hearing these words from His lips… Fear not little flock…

But we can’t get lost in that warm feeling and miss out on the true comfort that Jesus is offering His disciples: It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

First of all, who’s Father? Jesus doesn’t say, His Father, or the Father, he says, “Your Father.”

Ephesians 4:5-6 says, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace…

Through faith in Jesus Christ, Yahweh, the Almighty God, I Am that I Am, the Creator of the universe, has adopted us as His children and we get to call Him, Our Father. This is no small thing!

Romans 8:31-32 says, If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

It is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom, it makes Him happy to give the kingdom to His beloved children. What a wonderful thought… But why does Jesus give it? What lesson is there for us in this wonderful truth, what is it that His disciples weren’t seeing in order for Him to point this out?

If we look back over the preceding verses, it becomes pretty clear that the overwhelming concern was not in the reception of the Father’s kingdom, it was the preservation of the earthly kingdom.

Back in verse 13 of this chapter, someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” And Jesus went on to tell the parable about the farmer whose barns were too small to hold his bumper crop and instead of putting his great gain to good use in helping others, he decided to build bigger barns to store it up for himself.

Jesus went on to tell His disciples in verse 22, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.”

What was Jesus pointing out? Was He not showing His followers that their concerns were really wrapped up in the temporary kingdom of this world?

In the parable, God said to the farmer, “Fool! This night your life is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

To His disciples He said, “Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows you need them. Instead seek His kingdom and these things will be added to you.”

Isn’t Jesus’ point to get His disciples to trust the Father and use their resources to help others?

What makes this idea easier to deal with is the thought that the kingdom that the Father is pleased to give us is not here and it is not made of the same kind of stuff.

Daniel loves the old joke where a rich man insisted on being buried with all his gold. So when He died they filled his casket with gold bricks and when he got to heaven they asked him at the gate, “What are you going to do with all that pavement?”

Not very biblically accurate but you get the point…

Martin Luther wrote, “What a man loves, that is his god. For he carries it in his heart, he goes about with it day and night, he sleeps and wakes with it; be it what it may- wealth, or self, pleasure, or renown.”

Ray Steadman said, “These treasures grip us whether they are of earth or in heaven. They seize our feelings, our affections and they hold them in an iron grip. Therein lies the terrible danger of treasures on earth. We find that if our affections are centered on things, we begin to love things and use people instead of using things and loving people as we are called to do.” 

Jesus said, 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Jesus’ point was that if His followers overvalued treasure on earth, whatever it happened to be, they would be anxiously concerned about it and their hearts would be divided. But if instead they had treasure in heaven, as a result of proper use of their earthly resources, a treasure that won’t rot or wear out, and were rich towards God and His kingdom, they would be concerned with matters pertaining to His kingdom instead of in a state of anxiety over material things.

Matthew Henry wrote, “Set your hearts upon the other world, and your expectations from that world. Provide yourselves bags that wax not old, that wax not empty, not of gold, but of grace in the heart and good works in the life; These are the bags that will last. Grace will go with us into another world, for it is woven in the soul; and our good works will follow us, for God is not unrighteous as to forget them. These are the treasures in heaven that will enrich us to eternity.”

The beauty of the biblical record is that we have examples of exactly how the Apostles interpreted this teaching from Jesus. We can see exactly how this was borne out in the life of the early church.

Acts 2:42-47

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Acts 4:32-37

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

This is what it looks like to ready our hearts for the coming kingdom.

Just to be clear, this is not a fundraising campaign. That is not at all what we’re after here. In fact, money is only a small piece of the pie. What we need, as a family and as individual disciples, is to be kingdom minded when it comes to our resources, whether those resources are money, or influence, or skill, or things.

When I was first hired as a carpenter’s apprentice years ago they told me that I needed my own hand tools to start work: a tool belt, a hammer, a flat bar, tape measure, and a circular saw. 

I didn’t have any of those things, and I didn’t have money to buy any of them either. My dad lent me an old tool belt and some tools, and a thirty year old Skil Saw with a cord about three inches long and I went to work. It’s not always about money.

Remember the words of John the Baptist from Luke chapter three. 

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

God sent His Son as an act of grace, an unmerited, undeserved gift, an act of charity. 

Jesus gave His life on the cross as an act of grace, of charity. 

Through faith in Jesus we are forgiven and adopted as children of the Father by grace, by His charity. 

As His children our lives from this point on should be entirely marked by acts of grace, acts of charity, and seeking opportunities to use our resources for the good of others in order to expand God’s eternal kingdom. 

That should be our treasure. For where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also.