Greed – How to be a Successful Fool. The man appeared to be a successful wise business man. God said he is a fool! If I counted correctly, there are six uses of ‘I’ and four uses of ‘my,’ so ten times in those few sentences he speaks of and speaks to himself about his possessions. The heart of a greed is all about I and my. There is no place for God.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 12

How to be a Successful Fool – Luke 12:10-21

By Delbert Young

Greed - How to be a Successful Fool

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Greed – How to be a Successful Fool – Luke 12:10-21

Scriptures: Luke 12:10; Mark 3:22; Mark 3:28-30; Luke 12:11-12; Luke 12:13; Luke 12:14; Luke 12:15; Luke 12:16-21

Let’s begin our study this week where we left off last time. Recall, Jesus was before an extremely large crowd of many thousands. Speaking to his disciples and friends (v4), he warned them to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. We noted how those once disciples and friends of Jesus Christ could become hypocrites – not actual followers. Jesus continued the warning and came to this frightening point.

Luke 12:10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but ANYONE who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Can once disciples and friends of Jesus Christ become guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit? Jesus warned his disciples and friends and also said, “anyone.” Have you ever wondered if maybe you did this someplace along the way? I’ve been asked a few times what this means. It’s one of those times you wish the disciples had asked, “Hey, what did you mean back there?” It’s obviously important to Christ followers, so we need to have some idea what he meant. Jesus also made this same statement when in Galilee recorded in Mark 3:29-30. Let’s read it, but first begin with some context.

Mark 3:22 And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”

These lawyers came with a specific blasphemy and yeast to say. They said it wasn’t the Spirit of God empowering Jesus. It was a satanic power.

Mark 3:28-30 I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an ETERNAL SIN.” HE SAID THIS BECAUSE THEY WERE SAYING, “HE HAS AN EVIL SPIRIT.”

It seems clear to me what is meant by “blasphemes against the Holy Spirit.” It’s attributing what the Holy Spirit does to an evil spirit. Jesus didn’t fit into their doctrine and teachings. I’ve heard people talk about the gifts of the Spirit, especially tongues being of the devil and evil, and preachers are the worst. It didn’t fit into their doctrine. I cringe wondering how close the person is to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

The warning from Jesus is clear. Be very cautious when labeling something you don’t understand satanic because it doesn’t fit your doctrine. Simply say you don’t understand or not certain you agree, but be on guard against speaking negatively toward preachers and people. That’s what they did with Jesus and it was blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and carried eternity with it. It’s the yeast of today’s Pharisees, which is hypocrisy and will cause you to be a hypocrite. Be on guard.

Luke 12:11-12 “WHEN you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

It is “when,” not “if.” It’s a yeasting of intimidation. Have you ever experienced something like this? We all have times when we need words of wisdom from the Holy Spirit, but have you ever been in an “on trial” situation? Many years ago I was in a denomination that brought me before its “rulers.” I was teaching the Bible, but not teaching their doctrine. I was drilled by those Bible scholars concerning my teaching. There was no way I should have been able to answer the questions they hit me with, but I did. We could argue doctrine, but there was no argument for the chapters and verses given me by the Holy Spirit. I want to encourage you. Rely on the Holy Spirit to teach you at the time what you should say. It’s not if. It’s when. One day you will need the Holy Spirit to step up in you. All his gifts are within you. Simply whisper inwardly, “Holy Spirit I need you.” You will be amazed. Has anyone experienced something similar to this? Jesus warned them about being yeasted by intimidation of the Pharisees. Intimidation will cause hypocrisy.

Luke 12:13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

This guy pushed through the crowd as Jesus was talking to his disciples about vital truths of eternal proportions and blurted out a demand. Where was this guy’s mind as Jesus shared eternal truths? Before we blast him, how many of us have ever been sitting in church (not here of course) and found ourselves mentally out of it and thinking about something “out there” somewhere?

Rabbis were called upon to judge such personal matters. Judy and I have found ourselves in family arbitrating situations, but never again! I guess we thought we were supposed to, but we learned.

Before we talk about this, I couldn’t help but think about some of the requests we blurt out that we call prayers. We push past, ignoring the eternal things Jesus is talking about – angels, the Holy Spirit, hypocrisy, acknowledging God, you know, those, to us, unimportant eternal issues. We want to talk about what we think so important. For example, I’ve heard prayers like, “God tell my husband to do what I want!” Every heard something like this? Here is what Jesus says to us.

Luke 12:14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”

Is that amazing or what? Jesus said, “Man.” We might say, “Mister.” It’s not a term of closeness. It’s a term of distance. It’s similar to, “I don’t know you.” Jesus told the man he wasn’t going to get involved in his personal situation with his brother. Wait a minute. I thought Jesus was involved in everything. Often, we ask/tell God to do things he’s not going to be involved in.

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “WATCH OUT! BE ON YOUR GUARD AGAINST ALL KINDS OF GREED; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

No one said anything about greed had they? Jesus saw past the man’s request for justice and saw the real problem – greed. I wonder in my life how many problems greed has caused. I thought it was injustice by people. Was it greed? Last time we saw that Jesus said, “Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” Now Jesus says “be on your guard against all kinds of greed.” Why? What’s so bad about greed anyway? What’s bad about wanting nice things?

“A person’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” The Greek word for life is zoe {dzo-ay’} – vitality, absolute fullness of life, life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, blessed. We cannot experience real life through possessions. Yet, we allow possessions to define us: the house we live in; the automobile we drive; how much money we make; how much money we save; the clothes we wear define us. We allow possessions to define us and tell us our worth. The truth is if things define us, they own us. Instead of owning a house, the house payments own me. Instead of owning a car, the car payments own me. We convince ourselves one more “thing” will make us happy. Greed is like a tapeworm always feeding, ever growing, but never satisfied.

Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against ALL KINDS OF GREED.” Greed comes in kinds. Greed is not limited to money or possessions. What are some other areas of greed? Maybe relationships, occupation, position, success, knowledge, physical beauty, but again, what’s so bad about greed?

Luke 12:16-21 And he told them this PARABLE: “The ground of a certain RICH MAN produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘WHAT SHALL I DOI have no place to store MY crops.’ “Then he said, ‘THIS IS WHAT I’LL DOI will tear down MY barns and build bigger ones, and there I WILL STORE ALL MY GRAIN AND MY GOODS. And I’LL say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ “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?’ “This is how it will be with ANYONE who stores up things for himself BUT IS NOT RICH TOWARD GOD.”

There is the answer to what’s wrong with greed and a definition of greed. Greed pushes God out and replaces God with greed. Greed replaces God with what we produce, grain, and what we possess, goods. He stored up grain and goods. We become rich toward possessions, but not rich toward God.

The man appeared to be a successful wise business man. God said he is a fool! If I counted correctly, there are six uses of “I” and four uses of “my,” so ten times in those few sentences he speaks of and speaks to himself about his possessions. The heart of a greedy person is all about “I” and “my.” There is no place for God.

Not too many years ago a new industry began renting storage buildings where people store their goods. We have more stuff than we need or can use, so we, like the man in the parable, get bigger barns. Americans have more stuff and wealth than any society ever. Yet amazingly, according to studies, Americans rate among the more unhappy people on the planet. While our society has the most stuff, we, individually and nationally, have the most debt. We may well be becoming a nation of fools. I do know our society stores up far more material things than our society stores up richness toward God.

This farmer became wealthy and successful by honest hard work. Jesus has nothing against successful, hardworking people. God expects us to prosper and be lenders, but not borrowers (Pro 22:7). The problem isn’t success and wealth. The problem is being rich in possession, but not rich toward God. That’s greed and that’s the issue.

Deuteronomy 15:6 For the LORD your God will bless you as he has promised, and you will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. You will rule over many nations but none will rule over you.

When a nation borrows, it’s a sign of big trouble and greed. At the moment, our nation is $16-$17 trillion in debt to other nations. Never, in the history of mankind has any nation been in such debt. We are in big trouble and I fear becoming a nation of fools because of greed.

Society promotes greed. If we go to McDonalds, or any fast-food service and order a combo, they ask you if you want to super-size your fries and drink. Why just have a regular amount of fries when you can have way more fires than you need. I use an iPhone 4 which works great, but do you know what society and Verizon wants me to purchase? An iPhone 5!

Luke 12:20-21 “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?’ “This is how it will be with ANYONE who stores up things for Himself BUT IS NOT RICH TOWARD GOD.”

It’s the “but” that’s the problem. It’s when things push God out. It’s when we are rich in things BUT not rich toward God. He was a fool because he only prepared for this life. He was not rich toward God and prepared for eternal life. People want possessions, but you’ll never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul. We can’t take it with us. In which have you stored up the most? In your storage house here, or in your treasures in heaven (Mat 6:19-20)? What defines your life? I pray it’s not greed. Greed is yeast causing us to be hypocrites.

Other Related Sermons:

Yeast of the Pharisees – video audio notes Luke 12:1-9

Easter Blood Sacrifice – sermon video audio notes

The Resurrection Proofed – Easter sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young