Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:32-34)
Sometimes we do things without thinking about the consequences. When I was younger, for example, I did not entertain for one minute what kind of food I ate. Thoughts of diabetes, high cholesterol, or even gaining weight did not enter my mind.
However, as I got older and got more information, I had some “Aha” moments. As I reflected on what I was eating, I realized that I probably should make some changes. It was a wise thing to do. I found myself in a situation where I was saying, “if I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself!”
Like many in the Free Grace movement, Zane Hodges played a major role in my understanding of the Bible. Recently I read a short sermon he did on Luke 12. It is found in his commentary on Luke on the GES website. These verses (vv. 32-34) and what he said about them caused me to have some time of reflection.
Most of us on this blog realize that when Jesus says that God wants to “give” us the kingdom, He meant more than simply going to heaven. The Lord is speaking to the disciples (v. 22). They were already going to heaven.
No, in these verses Jesus tells those who already have eternal life to do some difficult things. He wants them to live worry free lives. He wants them to live lives of faith. He wants them to sell their possessions and give the money away. Of course these things are related. Living lives of faith is the exact opposite of being anxious. Only a person who was anxiety free could sale his possessions and give them away.
The result of this is not the reception of eternal life by faith. Instead, when one of the disciples did what Jesus was saying it would be like he was making a large purse in which “treasure” in heaven could be placed. This is clearly talking about rewards. These rewards are those that never corrupt, get lost, or stolen. They are the polar opposite of every type of earthly treasure.
Jesus will “give” his kingdom to disciples who do so. They will not only be there, they will actually own part of that kingdom. They will reign in it.
Most of us understand such things. I think most us feel if that we are being faithful to the Lord there is no need to really reflect on these words. We do these things, at least in some degree.
However, Hodges said in his sermon that few Christians do what Jesus is talking about here. I have to admit, I have no idea how many will reign with Christ, but with a little bit of thought it does seem that most of us could take what Jesus is saying more seriously.
Certainly our culture impacts us. If there is anything that is a characteristic of our culture it is money. It permeates everything. How easy it is to be worried about our salary, our social security, our retirement, the stock market, our mortgage, the cost of raising children, the cost of education, etc, etc, etc.
I find these verses to be very difficult. It is interesting that most commentaries say we should not take them too far. But I think they speak of a very real problem that many of us can have in the culture in which we live.
How do we know if we have the right attitude towards money and anxiety that the Lord speaks of here. I was recently reading a commentary by H. I. Ironside on this passage. He said that if we give money away but want to hang onto it, we are not doing what the Lord wants.
It reminds me of the scene in the movie Ghost where Whoopie Goldberg has a million dollars and Patrick Swayze tells her to give it to charity. (Patrick is a ghost. I know the theology is terrible, but the illustration still fits.) Whoopie thinks Patrick is crazy but hands the check to the charity but will not let it go and the person tries to take it from her hand.
My fear is that in reality, that is the danger I and many others are in. Just where is our hearts? Are they here, or in the coming Kingdom? I am afraid that at the Judgment Seat of Christ, when the glory of the Lord and His Kingdom are seen, that I might say: “If I had known this is what it was going to be like, I would have taken those verses in Luke 12 more seriously.”