Scriptures: 2 Samuel 18: 5-9, 15, 31-33 & Luke 12: 13-21
Pastor Clyde’s August 2, 2015 Sermon
2 Samuel 18: 5-9, 15, 31-33
(5) The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, “Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.” And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.
(6) David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. (7) There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great—twenty thousand men. (8) The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.
(9) Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in midair, while the mule he was riding kept on going.
(15) And ten of Joab’s armor-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.
(31) Then the Cushite arrived and said, “My lord the king, hear the good news! The LORD has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.”
(32) The king asked the Cushite, “Is the young man Absalom safe?”
The Cushite replied, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.”
(33) The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”
(13) Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
(14) Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” (15) Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
(16) And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. (17) He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
(18) “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. (19) And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
(20) “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
(21) “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
1. This presidential election is already getting to me. I had a really weird dream last night.
2. I dreamed I went to heaven and I was taken to the throne of God and we had to make a case to God for why we should get into heaven.
3. The really strange thing was that there were three very famous men in front of me. The first one was President George W. Bush.
4. He told God that he was the former president of the United States and he thought he did a really good job while he was president.
5. God told him to go on in. Then President Barack Obama told him that he was the current president of the United States and he was doing the best he could in a very difficult time. God told him to go on in.
6. The next person was Donald Trump. He told God that he was running for president of the United States and God was sitting in his chair.
7. We are finishing today our look at a series of parables from Jesus.
8. Remember that we said that the parables were meant to tell us something about ourselves and something about God.
9. In this particular parable, if you look at the setting, you see that Jesus is now in Judea on his way to Jerusalem where he will be crucified.
10. If you go back to the beginning of chapter 12, you will notice that it says that there was a crowd of thousands.
11. We might be dubious about that. I mean, thousands? It was a small country.
12. But, remember, there was no TV or radio. Jesus was more than any rock star of megastar of our time.
13. If you look at what happened to George Whitefield in America during the Great Awakening, you will see that they often reported crowds of thousands.
14. So Jesus is talking first to his disciples when a man out of the crowd interrupts him.
15. Don’t you hate that? Have you ever been giving a sermon or speech and someone interrupts you?
16. I have to say that I have never been interrupted in the sense of someone talking to me but I have had someone walk right in front of me.
17. This guy says, “Tell my brother to share his inheritance with me.”
18. The sad fact is that many families know the pain of that statement. Lots of families break apart over how the inheritance is shared.
19. My family solved that the old-fashioned way; they didn’t leave any of us anything.
20. But in the time of Jesus, it was fairly simple. The oldest brother got 2 shares and the other brothers got a share and they took care of the sisters until they were married.
21. So if there were three brothers, it was ½, ¼, ¼.
22. So, what was the problem? The problem probably was much as it can be in our families. Which fourth does one brother get? Which fourth of the land, which fourth of the goats, which fourth of the sheep?
23. Who gets the special tools or the special rocking chair?
24. Jesus asks, “Friend, who made me the judge over you?’
25. And then he says something that is so very important—“Be on guard against all kinds of greed because life does not consist in an abundance of possessions!”
26. Our society keeps telling us the very opposite. We will be happy if we have more, more, more.
27. Jesus is saying that we all have a heart condition called greed—the Greek word is pleonexia.
28. We have this insatiable desire for more. Even in the Old Testament, it was necessary to warn us in the Ten Commandments not to covet anything that our neighbor had.
29. There are at least two ways that pleonexia works itself out in our lives today.
30. First, we have a desire for more.
31. We believe that if we only have another car, or a newer car, we will be happy. If we have a new iPhone or this new gadget, we will be happy.
32. We want new clothes even when we don’t wear the ones we have.
33. A rabbi once said that whoever craves more is like the man who drinks seawater for thirst—you kill yourself even while you drink.
34. Second, there is a fear of giving things up.
35. We hang on to things—hoard. I have told you that storage units did not even exist until the 1960s.
36. We have yard sales so that I can buy your junk to hoard.
37. We are afraid to give money to the church because we might need it for a trip to Jamaica.
38. Nothing wrong with having money; but listen to the parable.
39. The rich fool had a bumper crop. In the bible, a bumper crop was meant to be seen as a blessing from God.
40. It was also meant to be shared with the poor.
41. Instead, he wants to build bigger barns and eat, drink and be merry.
42. Notice, he is not condemned for having a bumper crop or being rich.
43. Wesley—earn all you can; save all you can but then give all you can.
44. Where he gets into trouble is “I” trouble.
45. Notice how many times he says “I” or “me.”
46. I count 11 times.
47. In Jewish and Christian thought, everything we have comes from God. He should have been thanking God.
48. Instead, he celebrates himself. In this parable, God speaks and he tells him he is a fool.
49. Why? Everything he worked for will now go to the poor where it was supposed to go in the first place.
50. Now what should be our response to this parable?
51. Some of you are thinking that you can’t give any more than you give.
52. There are ways to get around that. Some of you could tithe your estate through estate planning.
53. Don’t you want to be part of our missions program? Our children’s program? We are changing lives here daily.
54. We are involved in missions here and abroad and will be doing more.
55. But I want to bring it home more concretely.
56. When we come to the end of our lives, what will we have to show for everything?
57. I think we can really bring it down to a box. If I had to put everything into one box that meant something to me, I would not put a car or a house or a list of accomplishments.
58. I would put things like I have in this box.
59. Photos of my wife and children and my churches and my faith.
60. They remind me that life does not consist of an abundance of possessions.
61. I think that the people of Nicaragua would tell us that.
62. Do you want to know that through Jesus Christ?