‘The Gospel of Luke: Encountering Jesus’
Message: ‘Living a stewardship life’ pt.2 Text: Luke 12:13-34
Introduction: I’ve heard it said that we, generally speaking, are an ungrateful society. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. What I think is, that our gratitude has no… direction.
- People sit down at Thanksgiving, and other times, and ‘give thanks’ for many things in their lives.
- But’s it’s a general sort of thanks. Like, I’m thankful for my husband, or I’m thankful for my job or my home…
The problem is, and I do believe it’s a problem that has implications in other areas of our lives, the problem is we don’t say to whom we’re thankful, because we honestly don’t think about it.
We’re thankful, yes, but it seems only in the abstract. If we were thankful in the concrete, we’d say I am thankful:
- To my wife for all that she does for me.
- To my boss for giving me the job I have.
And of course, ultimately, for the follower of Christ, I’m thankful to God, for, well, everything!
- While we may say we’re thankful to our spouse for something, God very often gets left out of the gratitude parade when He should be the grand marshal.
ILL: And that got me thinking of a story I read from David Dewitt. A medical missionary served for many years in India in a region where there was progressive blindness. People were born with healthy vision, but there was something in that area that caused people to lose their sight as they matured.”
The missionary developed a process to stop the progressive blindness. Many people came to him to have him perform the operation and they would leave realizing that their sight had been saved.
- Not one of the people who received this treatment said “thank you” because it is not a part of their language.
- Instead, these people word say a word that meant “I will tell your name” and everywhere they went they told of the doctor and how he saved their sight. (David Dewitt)
We have a word that describes our gratitude, it’s thanks, but perhaps we should follow that tribes example and ‘tell of His name’ when we’re thankful, give thanks to God, tell of HIS name.
But that won’t happen unless we have a clear vision of who God is. Over and over again in Scripture, we find that God is good and that He wants to give us good things. And that’s what Jesus does in our text this morning…
- He gives us a clearer vision of our Good, Good Father.
PP: 3. Luke 12:22-23 Summary Statement
And He said to his disciples, “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 clothing.
Last week as we examined Luke 12:13-21, we saw
- That Jesus wants His followers to have a generous heart.
- That we should not only use what God has given to us for our own good, but also to help fulfill God’s kingdom purposes.
And I’m sure the question many of you went home asking was this:
- If I really trust God, if I choose to obey God with my finances, if I honestly seek to honor God with all my resources…
- Will I always have enough for me and my family?
And that’s a legitimate question. Jesus knew it was on His disciples minds, so He answers it before they get a chance to ask.
He knew the anxiety, the worry, that often accompanies living a stewardship life of generosity. And that it would be a battle for His disciples then… and now.
- So how does He assure them and us, that it’s a good thing to be generous?
First, He says do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.
PP: Jesus isn’t paraphrasing that modern prophet Bobbie McFerrin who so eloquently said ‘Don’t worry, be happy!’
- Bobbie McFerrin suggested that instead of worrying, we just… be happy. He’s not actually telling us how to be happy.
- Jesus, on the other hand will tell us how to defeat anxiety, and worry, and actually find peace… happiness if you will.
Anxious, is a catchword in this passage. It has the idea of being pulled apart.
- Isn’t that a good description of anxiety, or worry?
- Isn’t that how you often feel when you worry or are anxious?
Anxiety, worry, is destructive; it affects our physical, emotional and relational health. It brings us pain that’s very real and often leads many, even faithful followers of Jesus, into the pit of depression. And, it has its roots… in fear:
- We fear growing old.
- We fear losing our jobs, our homes, the love of our spouse or children,
- We fear becoming overweight, getting a terminal disease and the list goes on…
In essence, the Greek construction of this text finds Jesus saying stop being anxious, stop being afraid, stop allowing thoughts of what you’ll eat or what we’ll wear tear your lives apart.
- In other words, He acknowledges our anxiety, but tells us to stop worrying about the necessities of life.
You see, fear, anxiety, worry reveal a lack of trust in God and in His desire and ability to lovingly care and provide for you.
Jesus doesn’t just tell us not to be anxious, He tells us how to defeat anxiety when it raises its ugly head in our lives. He’ll expand upon that in the following verses, but He gives us a hint here when He says:
- For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.
Jesus is saying that the main thing in life… isn’t things.
- Remember from last Sunday Jesus told us that life is not satisfying our soul with the abundance of things, but instead having our soul rightly related to God. (The parable of the rich fool)
So, if I can get to this from the back door, Jesus is saying that if you want to worry about something, worry about your relationship with God.
- And particularly, make sure you have a right relationship with Him, through faith in Jesus?
Jesus will continue to show, that it’s just that relationship with God, that’ll bring about the defeat of anxiety in our lives.
PP: 4. Luke 12:24-28 Consider…
Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith!
Right off the bat, notice that twice in these 5 verses Jesus tells His disciples, then and now, to consider… That means
- To observe, to fix one’s mind on, to pay attention to.
- In other words, Jesus is saying look, this is important.
3 times He uses an argument from the lesser to the greater. The first is with ravens.
- God creates and cares for the ravens that don’t plant or harvest their food, and they can’t store up food in barns like the rich fool tried to do.
- Because you are of more value to God than the birds, if God feeds them, how much more will He feed you?
From the lesser; the ravens, to the greater; you!
Second, same argument only from a different perspective… ours.
- If in your anxiety, in your worrying, you’re unable to add even a single hour to your lifespan,
- How do you think you’ll ever be able to handle any of the truly significant things you’ll face in life.
From the lesser; your inability to add an hour to your life, to the greater; your inability to handle the significant things.
PP: Finally, the same argument and from God’s perspective.
- Since God creates and cares for the lilies that do nothing to look so beautiful yet die in a day.
- How much more will God clothe you?
From the lesser; the lillies, to the greater; you!
Here’s Jesus’ point… You, Christian, are of greater worth, of greater value to God than any other created things.
- And if God takes so delicate care of the rest of His creation
- He will take especially good care of you.
PP: This is perhaps where the Apostle Peter gets the inspiration behind writing 1 Peter 5:7
casting all your anxieties on him, because He cares for you.
Jesus ends with O you of little faith. We’re anxious, we worry, generally because we’re afraid of something.
- Jesus is acknowledging that fear is the foundation of anxiety
- and anxiety reveals a lack of faith in God.
ILL: George Muller once said, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith. The beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” (Jim Bomkamp)
Time and time again in God’s Word we find the promise of God’s loving care for us.
- Trust Him.
- Place your faith in Him alone.
- Then seek Him.
PP: 5. Luke 12:29-32 Seeking
And 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 that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Here Jesus makes a comparison between following the world and following God.
- For all the nations of the world seek after those things…
- Instead, seek His kingdom.
The world seeks after the material things because they give them the highest value in life. But followers of Jesus seek the spiritual, God’s kingdom, because God has given it the highest value in life.
Jesus tells His disciples, then and now, why to seek the Kingdom when He says… your Father knows that you need them.
- The word need here in the Greek means that our needs are many and constant. Sounds pretty accurate to me.
And in discussing our great need, Jesus refers to God as your Father.
- It’s a declaration of our intimate relationship with God
- and should encourage us that security for our needs is found on our relationship to God.
Jesus is saying to seek the kingdom, to bend all of our life to His kingdom purposes,
- Then, rest in your heavenly Fathers good and faithful provision of your needs.
So with no disrespect to Bobbie McFerrin, instead of ‘Don’t worry be happy’ Jesus is saying ‘Don’t worry, trust your heavenly Father.’
And if all that isn’t good enough, when we seek the kingdom… God, your Father, promises to give it to you. Jesus, I believe with a huge smile on His face, said:
- Fear not, little flock, for it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
Here Jesus is speaking very tenderly and specifically to His disciples.
- Don’t be afraid, don’t be anxious, don’t worry… you have a good, good Father, and it pleases Him, it brings Him great joy, to give you the kingdom;
- A kingdom of eternal life, glorified life, abundant life, perfect life in God’s kingdom, in the presence and under the capable care of your heavenly Father…
PP: 6. Luke 12:33-34 Where is your treasure?
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. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Look, I know what you’re thinking…
I thought we were done with the being generous thing from last week?
OK, remember Jesus just referred to His disciples as little flock. Most scholars believe Jesus is making a direct reference to His disciples here and to all those who answer God’s call to full time Christian service.
But, it’s also what we see played out by the Church as a whole in the Book of Acts.
PP: Acts 2:44; 4:32
- And all who believed were together and had all things in common. (Acts 2:44)
- 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. (Acts 4:32)
Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Then
Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old refers to a purse that does not grow old because the money in it is spent and doesn’t wear out the purse.
Provide yourselves… with a treasure in heaven that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Refers to the parable of the rich fool… don’t hoard what you’ve got; what God has given to you, use it; and give some of it to those in need.
So… you may not want to hear this but the intent here is this:
- If you say you don’t have enough money to give to help others… sell something.
God may never actually ask you to sell something you own to help someone in need… but He wants you willing to do it, IF, He should ask.
- If you’re unwilling to do that, then your treasure is in the wrong place.
You see, that’s really the point. Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is too.
- Is your treasure the physical, the accumulation of earthly things? Because if it is, then that’s where your commitment will be.
- Or is your treasure spiritual, helping to build God’s kingdom? When it is, that’s where your commitment will be.
Conclusion: Whenever we worry, whenever we are anxious we lose our peace. Can I tell you something?
Friday is my sermon writing day and with a few things I needed to do, I got a late start. When I began to write about 11:30am, my Office 365 crashed. I contacted Microsoft and two different people worked on it until 2:30pm. Office had to be reinstalled and when it was, I had lost some of my files, email contacts and settings.
So, I was getting a very late start on the sermon… you all know I’m a little OCD so that didn’t sit well with me… And I really didn’t need the delay because our out of town friends who are staying with us for the weekend, would arrive soon.
PP: To say I was anxious was an understatement. I was physically shaking.
PP: OK that’s not entirely accurate, this is more like it.
I texted Kathy and told her. She said she would pray for me.
- She did, I prayed, and God calmed my heart… and my body for that matter.
- And I found peace…
I was personally reminded that I have a good, good Father who really does care for me.
Now, you’re probably wondering why our theme today is gratitude, giving thanks, when it’s not actually mentioned in the text? Well, I believe it’s the application of the text.
When we’re grateful for what God has given to us, when we give HIM thanks for all we have, we’re more likely to trust Him to direct how we use it.
- And there’s no need to be anxious or to worry.
When we’re grateful for what God has given to us, when we give HIM thanks for all we have, He will be our treasure, HE will have our hearts.
- And there’s no need to be anxious or to worry.
You see a stewardship life is both one that is generous and grateful. And we begin to think differently:
- Lord, it’s your car (I keep saying that when I lend my Mustang out)
- Lord, it’s your money, Lord it’s your home, Lord, it’s your… whatever it is that you’re being asked to share…
- God, I’m just trying to be a good steward. I know none of it belongs to me.
I hope you have that conversation with God… often!
Finally, people in our society are encouraged, taught even, to better handle their anxiety, to live with their stress, to cope with their anxiety.
But, Jesus tells us not to manage our anxiety, but to defeat it. How?
- By remembering and holding on to the wonderful promise of your good, good Father to care for you.
- By trusting Him.
- By placing your faith in Him alone.
- Finally, by seeking Him and His kingdom, above all else.
Allow me to close with one last text… one last declaration of God’s goodness to you.
PP: Psalm 23:1
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.