Following Jesus Means Trusting the Father’s Provision

Following Jesus Means Trusting the Father’s Provision

If we’re going to seek the kingdom of God, it will mean ceding control over every aspect of our life to God. He is not interested in becoming second-in-command in our little armies. He is King and Lord, and He seeks the throne of our heart. When He sits on that throne, wealth and possessions cannot sit there too. God’s kingdom is a greater treasure than any we can lay hold of in this world. When we value it as we ought, we’ll find a satisfaction for our souls that outlasts all worldly gain.

Jesus Christ’s teaching about possessions is radical. It confronts both the selfish society in which we live and the sleeping church, which has so often gone with the flow of the world’s anxieties and greed. If the church is to be a shaft of light in the world’s darkness, then those who follow Christ will need to demonstrate a godly outlook toward worldly goods by embracing an absolute trust in the Father’s provision.

What does it mean to follow Jesus? As one prayerfully continues in obedient faith and identifies with Christ in His suffering and self-giving love, it will also mean setting aside materialism for something that truly satisfies.

On one occasion, a man asked Jesus to adjudicate a family dispute about an inheritance. Because it was not a part of His mission, Jesus flatly denied the man’s request (Luke 12:13–14). But then He followed His response with a parable warning against greed and a sermon exhorting His disciples to put God first. We can learn from both as we seek to follow Him too.

A Parable Against Greed

He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15–21)

In Luke 12:15, Jesus lays down a foundational principle regarding worldly goods: “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Neither wealth nor the things it can buy define a person. The problem, of course, is that we often live as though they do. And of course, greed and covetousness are not exclusive to those who have much. Even those who aren’t well off can worship and pursue material wealth in their own way, as can the moderately comfortable.

No matter our station, then, we ought to ask ourselves the question that this parable confronts us with: “Do I live as if my life consists in the abundance of my possessions?” For the rich man in the parable, the answer is clearly yes—and three perils accompany his outlook.

First, the rich man does not know himself. He fails to realize that he is more than a stomach that needs to be filled, an appetite that needs to be satisfied. He fails to realize that his purpose in life is to be rich toward God by glorifying and enjoying Him.1 Many people who have “made it” in our society are actually quite miserable because all that they have acquired and achieved does not touch the deepest longings of their lives. The rich man’s full barns can feed his body for a few seasons, but they have no power to nourish his soul.

Second, the rich man never sees beyond himself. His speech is peppered with the personal pronouns “I” and “my.” He’s like the lady of whom it was said, “Edith lived in a little world bounded on the north, south, east and west by Edith.”2 And because he cannot look beyond himself, his attitude is a refusal of the way of Christ. Instead of finding joy in denying himself, he aggressively affirms himself. Instead of finding joy in giving, he seeks it in keeping. He is like “the kings of the Gentiles” mentioned elsewhere by Jesus, who “lord it over them” (Luke 22:25, NIV). The Lord Jesus would have us be like Him instead, as people who serve (vv. 26–27).

Third, the rich man never sees beyond this world. This man’s great tragedy is that while he is prepared for worldly ups and downs, he isn’t prepared for God’s judgment.

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