Beware and Be on Your Guard
Against Every Form of Greed
Among the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, only the gospel of Luke records the “parable of the rich fool” that Jesus told the man who came to Him with a problem regarding inheritance. This parable warns of the foolishness of forgetting the preciousness of the soul and life, explaining how focusing too much on materialistic things will result in stinginess and a decrease in thankfulness. This story of the foolish rich man who has forgotten “tonight” concludes with this warning: “beware and be on your guard against every form of greed.” Greed falls under the sin of idolatry (Col 3:5). This is because greed leads to deifying materials instead of God. Such a sin cannot be forgiven.
The man who came to Jesus with the question was from a family that quarreled over their father’s inheritance. It seems that the older brother ignored the inheritance law and took his brother’s inheritance as well (Num 21:17). The man requested to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” and further said, “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.” The New Living Translation renders this verse as, “Life is not measured by how much you own.” Jesus then spoke of the parable of the rich fool. The rich fool is a man who fell into eternal misfortune because he lived his life not knowing the time, “tonight.” Even though a name is a proper pronoun that signifies one’s existence, nowhere in the passage is this man’s name mentioned. Yet, this man, whose mere identity is “a rich man,” emphasizes himself seven times: “I have no place to store my crops”, “this is what I will do”, “my grain and my goods”, “my barns”, “my soul, take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” Such emphases repeats seven times in the Korean Revised Bible and ten times in the original Greek text. His mindset consists only of “me, me, me.” Ultimately the ultimate name given to him is “you fool.” “This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (Luke 12:20). Such is the fate for those who are not rich towards God but only towards themselves.
One who has forgotten “tonight” is someone who has forgotten himself. This is an important parable that teaches us the true meaning of life. The rich man was someone who lived in great delusion. We each have our own place in our lives of faith, as a father, mother or child. When we forget our place, then our parents, brothers and even superiors cease to exist, because only we ourselves remain. We no longer care if others die, for we only care for ourselves. It is frightening. As result, we have completely forgotten ourselves and lost our purpose in life. The rich man thought the abundant harvest and wealth all belonged to him. He worried about having no place to store his crops and planned to tear down his barns and build larger ones, telling his soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.” He thought his soul was his own when it actually belongs to God. He did not believe in God because he had lost even himself. He did not reach out to the poor, for he did not know how to share, even with his abundant and overflowing wealth. Despite his great yield during the years of plenty, he did not even provide an opportunity to treat his fellow workers to a single meal. He had no thankfulness towards God and his greed was endless. A man’s greed cannot be satiated, even when he goes down to hell. There is no satisfaction, even when there is enough to fill this earth.
The rich fool did not know what would happen that very night. He probably felt happy making plans for his crops and thinking of eating, drinking and being merry. He thought lowly of those who did not have money and said, “I am not like them.” His eyes only saw the barns filled with grain. That was his purpose in life. That was where he found all his joy. A life that finds happiness only in what can be seen by the eye and touched by the hand is truly pitiful. It is a life where he eats alone, drinks alone, dresses himself alone, and enjoys life alone (Isa 22:12-14).
Dear saints, when parents tell their children, “You should know you are this well off because you met great parents. Be thankful that you have this great house and great car because of us,” God records those words in heaven. The name of God is thrown aside and replaced with the name of the parents (Dan 4). We must teach our children, “We are blessed today because our ancestors believed in Jesus and worked hard to establish churches, all by the grace of God who answers our prayers.”
The rich fool did not live past “tonight.” God, the Lord of all, took back not only his wealth but also his soul. Jesus described the pitiful rich man as a man who was “not rich towards God” (Luke 12:21). The fool says in his heart, “There is no God” (Ps 14:1-7, 53:1-6). Apostle Paul admonishes such people, saying, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks” (Rom 1:21). These people who do not give to God say, “It is my hard-earned money; I won’t give it to anyone.” They come to church to sit in the corner to avoid the pastor. They do not go to church because it pricks at their conscience. The Bible describes such
men as those who do not “see fit to acknowledge God any longer” (Rom 1:28).
Jesus is the true treasure of life, of heaven and earth and all creation (1 Pet 2:7). God gave this treasure to us, who only live seventy to eighty years (1 Pet 2:4). The precious blood of Jesus shed on the cross forgives any sin when we come to Jesus, believe and repent. How blessed are those who believe in Jesus! Should we still remain unthankful? Prophet Isaiah stated, “The fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Isa 33:6). We who believe in Jesus are the treasure. We must realize the value of our faith. It is said, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb 11:6). This tells us that we please God when we have faith. That is why we who have faith are treasures. We cannot be bought or exchanged even for everything of this world. We must not think lowly of ourselves. We have been given the best treasure of salvation through faith that pleases God (Rom 1:16-17; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8).
Dear saints, those who do not give tithes are thieves. Nothing goes well for them. God urges us to only give a tenth of all that He gives us and use it for the church, which is His body; stealing even that one thing will prevent any good from coming your way (Mal 3:8-9). God Who created the universe and us is the Origin of all things. He is the Word itself in the beginning. It is only proper to give thanks to Him. We must have the heart of thanksgiving that can give all when hearing the “G” in “God,” even if we don’t want to let go of our possessions. Individuals and families that can do this will receive the blessing of thousands and tens of thousands. Try multiplying one thousand dollars by a thousand and then by another thousand. Now multiply that number with ten thousand and another ten thousand. The blessing is incalculable. That is the blessing of thousands and tens of thousands. God makes us wealthy. The wealth given to us by God will never perish. God gives us the blessing of wealth without sorrow (Prov 10:22; Deut 8:17-18). Those who rely on Him will lack in nothing (Ps 34:7-10). Should we not be rich towards God if He will give us these blessings? If we do not live the lives of prayer that calls out to God in all that we do, God will leave and go far away; but He comes closer when we pray (Deut 4:7). Is there any saint who does not call upon the name of God even once throughout the day? He is a truly frightful person. How can we not call upon God when we open our eyes in the morning?
A true rich man is one who is rich in the love of God. For God “so loved the world” that He even gave and killed His begotten Son (Rom 5:8). Those who understand this and receive Jesus with thanksgiving is eternally rich in both heaven and earth. The foolish rich man did not know of this method of storing up in heaven (Matt 6:19). Doing good to others and helping them is storing up in heaven. This is something that does not go away. After helping someone, do not say, “I gave this much money to that person.” We did not give it to them, but we stored it up under our name in heaven. For where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matt 6:21). Those who give are more blessed than those who receive (Acts 20:35). We give thanks when we give. If we are blessed, then let us give. Those who are not well-off and poor can do much better even when we help just a little. Would they remain silent? They will pray to God. Jesus commands, “Freely you received, freely give” (Matt 10:8).
Satan discussed what makes man not believe in Jesus and fall to ruin. His method was to make them think, “Let’s do it tomorrow. Let’s start slowly when things calm down. Let’s first make enough wealth and then see if I have some time to spare.” The gospel of God is about the NOW. It is immediate. It is not “tomorrow.” How do we know God will not take our souls tonight? Tomorrow is too late. It is already later than late. We must work now, immediately when God is pleased and gratified. Apostle Paul worked day and night to cause no hindrance to the gospel. He used the money he earned working day and night to spread the gospel(1 Thess 2:5-9, 3:8; 1 Cor 9:12). He not once ate for free, promising to pay later. He learned to be content in whatever circumstances he was in. Hungry or full, he was not miserable (Phil 4:11). He told the saints to work with their hands (1 Thess 4:11; Titus 3:8,14). Those who do not know how to work can follow and learn from those who work well. We must not try to get things for free but learn. We are created to do good works (Eph 2:10). We are told to do good works through the labor of our hands(Eph 4:28). We must not live showing off money given by others when we don’t even give our own.
We the believers have hope.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:3-4).
Jesus overcame the power of death, got rid of our sins and rose again. Through this He gave us living hope. This is the inheritance of heaven. If this is the case, then how can we be greedy? There is a saying in New Zealand: “Swim in water when you have hope.” You keep afloat when you have hope, but without hope you will sink and die. Our bodies are earthly tents of this world. They will be torn down. However, we look towards a house not made with hands, but is eternal in the heavens (2 Cor 4:12-18). Jesus promises to receive us in the eternal dwellings when He returns ( John 14:1-3).
The rich fool did not perceive the death of his soul; he only stored up his goods. He was only able to speak of how much he had in the bank, what is in his barn, and who should take the land that is under his name if he dies. All these things come to pass (Ps 39:4-7). Things stored up cannot satisfy and give joy to our souls. Only the Word of the living God can give us happiness and joy. Because people don’t know this, they hoard their possessions to their hurt.
“There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt” (Eccl 5:13).
They are not able to gather with their families to go to the mountains or the beach to enjoy and share the Word of God with their hard-earned money.
“There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men-- a man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor so that his soul lacks nothing of all that he desires; yet God has not empowered him to eat from them, for a foreigner enjoys them. This is vanity and a severe affliction” (Eccl 6:1-2).
They have fame and power but die of diseases, not eating or spending. How pitiful is that? Therefore we must work, earn money, yield profit in sales and receive wages in the name of the Lord just like King David (1 Chr 29:14-).
The rich fool did not know his life would end if God took back his spirit. He died only living for his pleasure and satisfaction. The greatest invader of our life is death. He was helplessly dragged away by death. He was taken before he could let out a sound.
In 1923, nine billionaires with over one billion dollars gathered at a hotel in Chicago. A journalist wrote about them twenty-five years later in 1948 and found that they went bankrupt, ran away abroad, and died in a foreign land. They had died either by becoming lunatics, getting imprisoned or committing suicide. They faced wretched and pitiful ends. Why was this so?
“He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity” (Eccl 5:10).
“Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief ” (Prov 14:13).
“Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding” (Prov 2:2).
The people of Rome said that money was like sea water. Try drinking sea water. You become more thirsty. In the same way, you will die while thinking, “money,money, money.” But those who are rich towards God understand the glory, grace, love, and redemption of God, and they will bow their heads and give thanks to Him wherever they go. Those who live in submission to God will live like the Israelites in Canaan, a land overflowing with milk and honey.
Beloved saints, who today has the gold that King Uzziah stored up in Jerusalem?
Who took the grains of Pharaoh gathered from all over the world which was piled up by the Nile River?
Where is the gold that King Nebuchadnezzar stored up by the Euphrates River?
I retrieved the body of hundreds of people during my fifty-year ministry. Even the rich are only left with hemp clothes. There are no pockets in those clothes. Every time I see that I am reminded again that people come into this world naked and will leave naked (1 Tim 6:7,17; Job 1:21; Ps 49:17; Eccl 5:15). Wealth is a tool to serve God. We must not lose the opportunity to serve God, and our hearts must not be darkened because of wealth (1 Tim 6:17). I pray in the name of the Lord that all the saints of Pyungkang Cheil Church will receive the Triune God (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit), that you will treasure the Word of God in both sorrow and gladness, that you will give thanks to God, and that you will hold onto the blood of the cross of Jesus who overcame the authority of death, and enter into heaven majestically.
“And those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31).
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (Jas 4:14).
“For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope” (1 Chr 29:15).
Dear saints. Please pray for the servants of God, for your elders and eldresses, your district leaders, your cell group leaders. Will they not pray for you? God our Savior helps us when we go through suffering and hardship. We may say, “Alas! I am an elder, eldress, or deacon, trying to believe in Jesus well, but why is my household suffering?” But Jesus tells us, “Why are you crying? I will take care of it. I am with you now. I am in the midst of your pain” (Isa 63:9). Never forget this. Whenever we are suffering, Jesus is already there with us.
The Lord’s Day is a day to meet with God. It is a day of faith, prayer, and praise. It is a day of volunteering our service. And it is a day to forgive those who have wronged us. It is a blessed day where we repent, decide, resolve to concentrate on listening to the Word, and vow in prayer. Let us not stand in line with the rich fool but stand in the line of the Word of God. Let us be on our guard against every form of greed, giving thanks to God at all times and longing to glorify His name until the day we go to heaven (Phil 1:20). I pray in the name of the Lord that the Word proclaimed today will take away all the tears, pain and sorrows of today, and that you will all believe in and give thanks to Jesus who took care of all our sins, and that you will press on in the race towards heaven.
Sermon by Rev. Abraham Park on during Second Service on Sunday, September 9, 2012
A word of request from Rev. Abraham Park during this sermon
“Our church is truly a blessed church. The mountains and streams are blessed through our prayers and praises. They give back new air, ions and oxygen through that grace and make us healthy. Don’t go straight home after the Lord’s Day service; go take a walk in the church hills. Even if you stroll slowly it will only take 40 minutes. Give thanks to God as you walk. Try praying under a pine tree or at the prayer sites for about twenty minutes, praying about any problems you must face concerning your children or business or whatever diseases. How wonderful is that? This is the secret to my health.”