Do you value people over things?

IMG_1244I am working on my lesson for our Connect Groups that will meet this coming Sunday at Southern Calvert Baptist Church. As a church, we have been walking through the entire Bible over the previous two and a half years. I am so excited to see how all of the things that we have been learning are all coming together in the person of Jesus Christ. This week, our journey takes us to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12. What do you value in this life? What do you spend the majority of your time doing? What do you invest your time and energy into the most? For many humans, we invest our precious time and energy into acquiring wealth and possessions. In and of themselves, wealth and possessions are not a bad thing. Money is simply a tool in the hands of God that He uses to reveal our priorities. We all have a choice; we can use the precious gift of time to invest in temporary things, like wealth and possessions or, we can use the precious gift of time to invest in eternal things, like the souls of our fellow human beings. Jesus challenges us to pick one or the other because we cannot do both. In other words, we cannot serve two masters. We cannot serve wealth accumulation and God both at the same time. We will give lip service to one and really devote ourselves to the other. This is what Jesus addresses in Luke 12.

In order to understand the entire passage of Luke 12, I want to give the main paragraph themes to you in the form of an outline.

  • 1-3 – Beware of hypocrisy because all things will be revealed
  • 4-7 – Do not fear those who harm you for preaching Christ
  • 8-12 – Confess Jesus before all men, especially when persecuted for it
  • 13-21 – Relationships are more valuable than possessions
  • 22-32 – Priority number 1, seek the kingdom of heaven in your daily life
  • 33-34 – Evidence of seeking the kingdom, store up treasures in heaven, daily

In this article, I want to focus on verses 8-34. What is the connection between confessing Jesus, building relationships, and storing up treasures in heaven while we live on the earth? That is what we want to discover in this section of Scripture.

I. Confess Jesus Christ daily

There is no denying the fact that as followers of Jesus Christ, we have all been called to proclaim His Gospel to all creation. We have all been commissioned to make disciples of all nations by taking the Word of God to others and teaching them to understand and obey the Word of God. Jesus challenges His disciples to confess Him before men, daily.

8 “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God;
9 but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.
10 “And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him.
11 “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;
12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” (Luke 12)

In the above context, Jesus reminds His disciples to confess Him when times are tough and things get difficult. It’s one thing to confess Jesus to others when it does not cost you anything. It’s another thing to confess Jesus to others when it could cost you everything. I am simply amazed by how many believers simply stopped preaching the Gospel over the past 4 months because of a virus. Let’s be honest, many to most did it out of fear. They were afraid. It’s easy to excuse ourselves. It’s also easy to excuse yourself when you suffer persecution for preaching the Gospel. It’s easy to quit out of fear. It has happened in the past and it continues to happen today. As a church, we need to repent over the fact that we stopped preaching the Gospel over the past 4 months, especially to the children of our society. We showed them just how much fear is necessary in order to keep us from preaching the Gospel. May the Lord forgive us and not hold it against us. May our kids not hold our cowardice against us either. Have you allowed fear to keep you from preaching the Gospel? How many among us quit taking our children to Sunday School over the past 4 months? How many of our kids are missing out on VBS this summer? How many of our kids have not set foot in a church service over the past 4 months? What do you think the long term effects of that are going to be? Do we value others enough to step up and confess Jesus even in the midst of a global pandemic?

II. Value Relationships

As people, we always value something. For some of us, it’s our private life and time. For others, it’s our possessions. There are those who value people and relationships. That is what matters to God, that we value relationships over everything else. Why? Things are temporary. People are eternal. As we live on the earth, we can either focus on the temporary things of this earth or, we can focus on eternal things. Our priority will be seen in what we value. What we value is revealed in how we spend our time.

13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.
17 “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’
21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12)

Riches, money, and possessions, in and of themselves, are not bad. In fact, they are neither good nor evil. What we choose to do with our money and possessions reveals our priorities. Money and possessions are simply a tool in the hands of God to reveal the depths of our own hearts. Do you value possessions over people or do you value people over possessions? Where do you spend your time and resources? How do you spend your time and resources? Are you seeking to use your time and resources to invest in people and relationships or, do you seek to use your time and resources to acquire more money and possessions?

III. Store up treasures in heaven

Many have asked how to store up treasures in heaven while we live on this earth. Jesus explains how to do this. He never asks us to do something and then not explain HOW to do it.

22 And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on.
23 “For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
24 “Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!
25 “And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?
26 “If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?
27 “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.
28 “But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith!
29 “And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying.
30 “For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things.
31 “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12)

In order to store up treasures in the kingdom of heaven, while you live on the earth, your focus has to be on the kingdom of heaven. It is easy to get sidetracked while we live on this earth because of the necessities of life. Many excuse themselves from living for the kingdom of heaven by claiming that they have to worry about the necessities of life. For example, food is a priority for all of us. We need food to survive. Many focus on making money to buy food to live. That seems noble. There is nothing wrong with making money to buy food to live, but, if that is all that you live for on a daily basis, then you miss the purpose of your time here on the earth. Life is more than food. We need food to live. We do not live to eat food. Daily life is temporary. Eternity is long. We can choose to use our time to invest in eternity or not. We need food to live in order to be able to invest in eternity. God knows our needs because He created us with those needs. He has a plan for us, for our time here on this earth. He put us here to connect with Him and then to invest in eternity. How do we invest in eternity? Jesus explains this process in the famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.

“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

In order to store up treasures in heaven while you live here on the earth, you must live out the Word of God and invest the Word of God in the lives of those around you. These are the two things on the earth that have the potential of being in heaven. The Word of God is eternal and will be in the kingdom of heaven. The souls of human beings are eternal and have the potential of being in the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, we need to seek to build relationships with the people around us and invest the Word of God in their lives so that they can accept the Gospel and have access to the kingdom of heaven. We learned in point number 2 that we are to value relationships. This is how we demonstrate that we value relationships. We seek to invest the Word of God in the lives of the people around us. This is how we confess Jesus daily, as we discovered in point number 1.

Let’s make this even more practical.

33 “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys.
34 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12)

We basically have two choices, we can use our possessions on our own personal pleasures or, we can use our possessions in the pursuit of investing in the kingdom of heaven. You need a house to live in on a daily basis. Are you using that house for your basic needs only or, are you using your house to invite people over and study the Bible with them, investing in personal relationships? It’s the same house but being used completely different. In the first version, I use the house for myself. In the second version, I use the same house for myself and to invest in the kingdom of heaven. Where is your heart? Do you have a heart for people? Are you investing the Word of God in the lives of the people around you? Do you value personal relationships? Do you live to confess Jesus on a daily basis?

May the Lord help us understand these truths and live by them on a daily basis!

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