Physical death has many characteristics of its own. But two characteristics that should move each of us to the correct attitude before death are that death is no respecter of persons; and death never announces itself as to the precise moment of its work. With these two thoughts in mind, notice the text of Luke 12:15-21.
In this story related by Jesus Christ, the central figure is the rich man; the theme is “Beware of Covetousness.” The man in this story thought that physical death was not soon to come to him; and it seems most people think this same way. He had no idea when he got up that morning that he would not see another morning on this earth.
His attitude was pride and selfishness. His mind was centered on the abundance of the things of this world that he possessed. Verse 19 reveals that these riches were his security, his pleasure, and his joy.
However, Job presents a truth that will start you thinking of how insignificant the fame and fortune of this world really are:
“And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
Job said he came into this world naked (or with nothing), and he would leave the same way. You cannot take the riches of this world into eternal life.
Therefore, in Luke 12:20, Christ call this man a fool:
“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be…?”
There are several lessons Christ was teaching the people in Luke 12:15-21.
1) The first lesson we will consider is: Beware of Covetousness; found in verse 15:
“…for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
Why? Because Christ was teaching His Sheep to not look to this world’s prosperity for the gauge or standard of life, real life, the Life of God. Don’t let covetousness take your heart and soul, whereby you spend all your time and energy building bigger barns. In this life and according to this wicked world’s standards, a man’s worth is how large his bank account is, or how much land and how many houses he possesses, etc.
But many times the things of this world cause you to develop a state of mind of being covetous (which is an inordinate desire for wealth or possessions, or even for another’s possessions). The more you have, the more you want. The eye is never satisfied with things of this world. (See Ecclesiastes 1:8; 4:8; 5:10; Isaiah 55:2.) The flesh can never be satisfied. When a man sells his family, his morals, his principles, even his own soul to covetousness, he is a fool.
Money, and the abundance of things money can buy, cannot bring peace, power, security, provision, protection, or any of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Only the indwelling Christ, who is the Prince of Peace, brings peace and rest to your soul. Christ is what makes you rich; for Christ is Truth and the Truth makes you free. Truth guides you into an intimate (pure and holy) relationship with God Himself. Here in Oneness, Christ allows you to be One in the Knowledge of Him (which is His Perfection, His Preeminence, His Perception), and One in the Knowledge of His Love (which is His Power), as you are brought to where He is, that you may “behold my glory” (John 17:21-24).
Here you realize how rich you are in God as you are a joint-heir of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17a).
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18)
2) The second lesson is in verse 21:
“So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
There must be a change of attitude and a change of the pathway wherein you walk. As long as you walk in the flesh and try to please the flesh, you will always be poor “toward God.” But when you walk as Christ walked (in love and in faith); then and then only, will you be “rich toward God.”
Things of this life feed only the flesh, and not the spirit; for things of this life have wings on them.
“…for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” (Proverbs 23:5b)
And in the blink of an eye, the riches of this world can be destroyed, or vanish away. This is exactly what Christ tells the rich man in Luke 12:20. Christ infers that a man is a “fool” who places his hope in riches that have no security or cannot benefit him in eternity.
Spiritual richness is proven by your keeping of His Commandments (John 14:15; 1 John 2:4-6). When you keep His Commandments, it proves you love Him more than self.
You may not have a large bank account, live in a mansion, wear designer clothes, or have a big position in this world; but praise God, if you love Him more than self, you will be rich in Grace, Mercy, Holiness, Righteousness, Peace, Power, and Rest.
Reader, which will it be? Riches for a season, or riches now and for all eternity.
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;” (Hebrews 11:24)
“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” (Hebrews 11:25)
“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” (Hebrews 11:26)