Riches and Materialism
A Rich Fool by Bryan Gibson
Building a Good Name by Bryan Gibson
The Parable of the Sower by Bryan Gibson
Make Yourself at Home by Stan Hammonds
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A Rich Fool
by Bryan Gibson
Luke 12:16-21 NKJV
16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.
17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’
18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.
19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’
20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
This man is called a fool by God because he made many foolish mistakes; let us consider some of them:
Foolishly, he asked the question, “What shall I do?” to the wrong person—himself.
“…He thought within himself, saying, ‘what shall I do…’ Things would have worked out a lot better if the “what shall I do” had been directed to the Lord. The Lord’s answer would have been far different than the one he came up with. When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, Saul asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). That’s the very question we need to ask about everything related to our soul’s salvation. Consider the difference between Saul’s response and this fool’s.
He foolishly forgot the source of his blessings.
My crops, my barns, my goods—say it long enough and you begin to believe it. What a contrast to the attitude expressed by David: “Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all…all things come from you” (1 Chronicles 29:12, 14). If this fool had remembered the source of his riches, he wouldn’t have made the next mistake…
Instead of sharing what he had, he foolishly stored it all up—for himself.
When his ground “yielded plentifully,” he had plenty of opportunities to do good—the kind of good discussed in the following passage: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). This is what the Lord would have told the rich man—if he had asked. And think about just how much he would have been further enriched!
He foolishly counted on having “many years.”
“Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” But before he could even get comfortable, the Lord said, “Tonight your soul will be required of you.” The only thing he had plenty of now was regret. If only he had learned the lesson James tried to impress upon his readers: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’: whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that’” (James 4:13-15).
He foolishly thought “things” could feed his soul.
He was wrong when he said, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years,” because when it came time for the Lord to judge his soul, it was lacking the things it needed the most. “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses”—that’s the very point Jesus was making in this parable (Luke 12:15). “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27).
Building A Good Name
by Bryan Gibson
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” (Proverbs 22:1).
Among the qualifications given for elders is the following: “he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7). So in order for a man to become an elder, he must have a good reputation, not just among his brothers and sisters in Christ, but also among those outside the church. In other words, he must have a good name in the community.
But a good name is not just important for elders. Every Christian should strive to have a good name or reputation. Let’s take a closer look at what the Bible teaches on this subject.
A good name is a very precious, a very valuable asset.
“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches…” (Proverbs 22:1). “A good name is better than precious ointment…” (Ecclesiastes 7:1). Why is it so valuable? Because it greatly affects the influence we have on the world around us. It’s awfully hard to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world if our reputation has been damaged (see Matthew 5:13-16).
It takes many deeds to build a good name, but only one to lose it.
That may seem unfair, but experience tells us that it is true. The following passage shows one of the many ways a good reputation can be ruined: “Debate your case with your neighbor, and do not disclose the secret to another; lest he who hears it expose your shame, and your reputation be ruined” (Proverbs 25:9-10). Showing a lack of trustworthiness—telling something that we should not—is a good way to ruin a good name. I’m sure you can think of many others. Sometimes, we don’t even have to do anything wrong to lose our good name. We may just be guilty of suspicious behavior. See 2 Corinthians 8:16-21 for how the apostle Paul was careful to avoid even the appearance of evil. There is a Chinese proverb that says, “When you’re walking in your neighbor’s melon patch, don’t stop to tie your shoe.” You may not be stealing any melons, but it sure looks like it. We need to give careful thought to how others perceive our actions.
A good name is important, but character is what we should seek first and foremost.
What is the difference between reputation and character? Thomas Paine put it this way: “Reputation is what men and women think of us. Character is what God knows about us.” So the first order of business is to please God, to develop the kind of character with which He is pleased, and then the good reputation will follow. You can see this illustrated in 1 Samuel 2:26 (“Samuel grew…in favor both with the Lord and men”) and Luke 2:52 (“Jesus increased…in favor with God and men”).
It is possible to have a good reputation among men, but still not be pleasing to God.
This was certainly the case with the church at Sardis: “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1). The Pharisees did enough to gain a good reputation among many of their fellow-Jews, but they were far from pleasing to God (Matthew 23:23, 25, 28).
So what are we striving for? To have the same thing said about us that was said about Demetrius. Read it carefully. “Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also bear witness, and you know our testimony is true” (3 John 1:12).
The Parable Of The Sower
(Matthew 13:3-23; Mark 4:3-25; Luke 8:5-18)
by Bryan Gibson
In this parable Jesus tells of a sower who scatters seed (the word of God—Luke 8:11) in four different places (representing four different kinds of hearts). Some is sown on the wayside, some on stony ground, some among thorns, and some on good ground. Jesus explains what each represents in the spiritual realm.
Wayside: Those who hear the word of God, but do not understand (Matthew 13:19; Mark 4:15; Luke 8:12).
Stony ground: Those who receive the word with joy, but have no root. In time of temptation, persecution, tribulation, etc., they fall away (Matthew 13:20-21; Mark 4:16-17; Luke 8:13).
Thorns: Those who receive the word, but never grow to maturity. The word is choked out by the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14).
Good ground: Those who hear the word of God, understand it, and keep on bearing fruit (Matthew 13:23; Mark 4:20; Luke 8:15).
Let’s look now at some practical lessons we can learn from this parable.
There cannot be a harvest without the sowing of seed. To reap a harvest of souls among our friends, neighbors, and family members, we must first plant God’s word within their hearts. It is only by hearing and obeying the word of God that they can be saved (1 Peter 1:22-25). One of our hymns asks the question, “Will your sheaves be many, will you garner any, for the gathering at the harvest home?” What kind of harvest can you expect? How much seed have you been planting?
The devil does not want that seed to bear fruit, and will do everything in his power to prevent it. He may use temptations (Luke 8:13), persecutions and tribulations (Mark 4:16), or he may just dangle the things of this world in front of us (Mark 4:17-18). His tricks are many. Are we prepared to resist his efforts? Have we put on the whole armor of God, so that we might be able to withstand his attacks? (Ephesians 6:10-20).
It is important to prepare our hearts properly to receive God’s word. Four different hearts are pictured in this parable, but only one of them was acceptable. Do I have the kind of heart in which God’s word can flourish? Have I prepared my heart, as Ezra did? (see Ezra 7:9-10). Have I rooted out those things that might choke God’s word? (James 1:19-21; 1 Peter 2:1-3).
We must respond to the word of God with conviction as well as emotion. We don’t want to be like those who received it with joy, but in time of temptation fell away. To remain steadfast in the gospel, we must have conviction. We must wholeheartedly believe the truths contained in the gospel.
Love of this life and the things of this life can keep us from eternal life. Isn’t this what happened with the rich young ruler? (Luke 18:18-23). According to this parable, the word can be choked out by the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, the pleasures of life, and the desire for other things (Matt. 13:22; Mark 4:19; Luke 8:14). We need to be reminded of the truth found in 1 John 2:17: “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
Make Yourself at Home
by Stan Hammonds
Have you ever visited someone for the first time and been told to make yourself at home? The host utters these words with a desire of helping the guests feel more relaxed in their new environment. The assumption is that people feel most at ease in their own homes, so a request for them to make themselves at home is simply a way to help them feel comfortable. After all, nobody likes to feel uncomfortable in his or her surroundings. However, for a Christian, there can be danger in becoming too comfortable in this world.
The old adage, “home is where the heart is,” points to the fact that most people have a strong affection for their homes. A great example of this is when someone returns from vacation. It seem that no matter how wonderful the trip may have been, no matter how great the adventure was, people usually follow their description with the disclaimer, “but it sure is good to be home!” You see, although they enjoyed the time they spent on vacation, it wasn’t home because it was not the location of their emotional devotion; and this is where the danger comes in for Christians.
As human beings, we spend our entire lives completely surrounded by the trappings, both harmless and harmful, of the temporal world. On the harmless side, we spend time on family, school, work, hobbies, sports, etc. Although they may not cause harm in and of themselves, they do take up a lot of our time and energy. On the harmful side of things, we can spend time fulfilling the more base physical urges—the pursuit of sex, drugs, money, fame, etc.
Therefore, there is a distinct possibility we can become so caught up with the carnal aspects of our lives that we begin to “feel at home” here in this world. It’s as if Satan, the “host” of this world, invites us to make ourselves at home here, and we take him up on the offer. However, if we are smart we will hear the echo of the words of the old hymn, “this world is not our home, we’re just a passing through.”
The Apostle Peter, in I Pet. 2:11, emphasizes this point by referring to Christians as pilgrims and sojourners. The Hebrews writer said that God’s followers throughout history recognized this fact, which caused them to seek their true home (Hebrews 11:13-17). In addition, Paul, in Colossians 3:1-2, encourages us to have our minds set on heavenly, instead of earthly, things.
So, the challenge for us is to live in this world, but not feel at home here. How can we do this? How can we appreciate all the blessing of this life, but keep our focus on what lies beyond? The answer goes back to the thought that home is where the heart is. In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus compares our priorities to treasure. He ends the thought by saying, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If our hearts and minds are on the things in this world (even if they are important things like family and work) then that is where we will feel most at home. Conversely, if we focus our energies on thoughts and actions that look toward eternity, then we will never feel truly at home in this life.
Therefore with Jesus’ words as the measure of our view of “home,” all that is left is for us to evaluate where our treasures are. One way to do this is to ask ourselves questions like, “Do I spend most of my time with Christians or with nonbelievers?” or “How much time and energy do I spend on Bible study?” or “Do I let worldly things get in the way of spiritual responsibilities?” If we answer these questions honestly, we should know our true devotions.
As Christians, we must never succumb to the temptation to feel at home in this world. Instead we must be like Paul (Phil. 1:21-24) and view life as a short journey that will ultimately bring us home. If we are successful in keeping our hearts focused on spiritual things, then at the end of our lives we can honestly say, “I really enjoyed the trip, but it sure will be great to go home!”
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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