Apr 7 2013 - Luke 12:8-34 – From fear to faith
The passage we have read this morning begins with the exhortation, "do not worry" (Luke 12:11), and ends with similar encouragements: "do not worry about your life..." (12:22); "Do not be afraid, little flock" (12:32). And Jesus tells us why we should have such fearless confidence; we have a heavenly Father who loves us and who is committed to our care.
I have a young granddaughter. Beatrix is just short of her first birthday and has a mum who is devoted to her care. But that does not stop her fretting and, at times, crying frantically. She has not yet grown sufficiently to understand that she is being well looked after. If her mum is out of sight she gets fretful, fearful that she has been forgotten or abandoned.
All of that is natural behaviour in babies of her age. But why does such behaviour persist in grown adults? We so easily become worried and fretful. We forget so quickly the way God has cared for us in times past. We fear that he has forgotten us and abandoned us. We yell and we rage.
And then we begin to devote ourselves to our own care. We store up treasure to safeguard our own future forgetful that we have a Father who has promised to care for us. We hold on to what we have rather than being generous with all that God has given us.
Jesus tells the parable of a man whose fields one year produced an abundant crop. Now at last he felt that he was secure. He could build a few more barns, store away his bumper harvest and live well on the proceeds of his sales year-by-year for the rest of his life. He is confident that he has no more worries. He has made it. But, says Jesus, this man has failed to reckon with one important factor; that very night he was going to die. How would his great fortune help him now? He had planned for many years of life; he had failed to prepare for death.
Jesus warns us, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions" (12:15). He urges us to be generous and to invest in the kingdom rather than following the self-preoccupied patterns of this world; "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (12:34).
The point is not that we should be heavenly minded and have no concern for the things of this world. Jesus is teaching us to view all that we have – and work hard for – as gifts from God. God cares for us and will provide for us. But it is not that we are to sit back and do nothing, expecting heaven to rain down its riches upon us. Rather we go about our daily work in a sense of dependence upon God. We recognise with thankfulness that all we possess is given us by him and is to be used not merely in self-gratification but for the glory of God and the blessing also of others. Jesus is teaching us to have a right attitude towards earthly possessions, one which neither despises them nor is preoccupied with them. He calls us to a life based on confident trust rather than on worry and fear.
Heavenly Father, help me to rest content in your care for me. Help me to recognise that all I possess comes from your hand. Help me also to remember that I am not my own, I have been bought with a price. In a spirit of thankful confidence, help me to show your love to others through open-handed generosity rather than being constantly worried about my own welfare. Help me to know that, even when you seem to be far off, you are still with me, still caring for me. Your love towards me in the Lord Jesus assures me that I shall never be abandoned.