Monday, October 1, 2018

Worry and Covetousness

"Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear” (Luke 12:22).

Today we return to Luke’s gospel to consider Jesus’ teaching on covetousness. A man in the crowd asked Jesus to settle an inheritance dispute. Jesus replied that He was not holding the office of a judge. Then Jesus went on to warn the crowd against greed. He told the crowd a parable about a rich man whose field produced a bumper crop. The rich man expected to have security for many years, but in fact, he died that very night. Jesus was not saying it is wrong to have riches or even to have a savings plan, but rather that such things are secondary. We are first of all to be “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

Jesus then told His disciples not to worry about material things. Remember that Jesus’ sayings are often hyperbolic; that is, He exaggerated for effect in order to deal with our attitudes. The Bible elsewhere encourages us to plan for the future as best we can, to provide for our families, and so forth. It is our fundamental outlook that Jesus addresses when He says, “And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it” (v. 29).

Jesus tells them to “consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” (v. 24). Passing from birds to plants, He says, “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these” (v. 27). If God takes care of these, how much more will He take care of His children.

Jesus encourages us by saying, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (v. 32). The Good Shepherd speaks to His intimate friends and tells them not to be afraid about the circumstances of life. Regardless of how life goes for us, the kingdom is ours. Why do we worry about trifles, when God has given us His everlasting kingdom?

The literary form of Jesus’ parable permits Him to exaggerate in order to show contrast. “How much more” (13:28) will God care for you, He asks. The implied answer is no exaggeration could ever approach the measure of His goodness and care. Trust Him whom Jesus trusted.