King's Business - 1967-03

Visualize, if you will, a typical American home. Proudly it takes its place in the handsome suburb of a large city. The well-tended lawn with its neatly-arranged shrubbery tempts one to lazy re­ laxation. The luxurious inner appointments are of the finest: the best of rugs, deep-piled and wall-to- wall ; decor to match; four bedrooms; a cozy den; a basement recreation room and a two-car garage (both sides used). The setting is, in a word, per­ fect, and it is perfectly legitimate. But within this admittedly legitimate setting, a dreadful thing may happen. Quite unnoticed, the level of life begins to escalate until luxuries become necessities and pleasures become essentials. The eyes of the soul, focused with ever greater inten­ sity on “ things,” lose their vision of spiritual reali­ ties. Like a monstrous wall, the sin of covetousness grows until it shuts out the cry of our fellowmen and the voice of God, and we grow deaf to any pleasure but our own. The restless demon of desire tantalizes us with dreams of a yet more beautiful setting, a more comfortable home, a bigger car, a finer life — until we become virtually oblivious to the demands o f the Kingdom of God. At this point the “ fusion” between story of the rich man of Jesus’ day and the contemporary man of our day is complete. The incidental factors of time, place, cir­ cumstance and society become mere surface struc­ turing and the parallel between the two is plainly evident. I suspect that if God were to speak in audi­ ble tones to men today as He spoke then, His evalua­ tion of us would be unchanged! “ Thou foo l!” But, covetousness is not an inescapable error! Man is not without recourse, option or choice! An­ other course o f action, another manner of life, is offered to us in the subsequent verses where Jesus presents to us His EXHORTATION concerning covetousness. A beautiful triplet of truth takes form in these verses, each of the three points introduced by a simple, concise statement from the lips o f Christ: “ Take no thought . . .” vs. 22; “ Seek ye first . . .” vs. 31; “ Sell that ye have and . . . provide . . . a treasure in heaven . . . ” vs. 33. Here are three state­ ments which accentuate three chief characteristics of the life of faith. The man of faith is content with essentials, occupied with concerns of the Kingdom of God, his treasure amassed in heaven! Now note carefully: These three distinctions of

which describes the actions o f one who hoards scarce items for future use. But Jesus is not finished. His analysis continues in the latter part of verse twenty-one as He re­ veals the state of the covetous man. Jesus says he is “not rich toward God.” Wealthy according to the standards of earth, he is a pauper by the standards of heaven. Thus does Jesus expose the philosophy, activity and state of the covetous man. But an academic treatment of the theme, how­ ever pertinent, is not enough. Jesus, therefore, in­ cludes in His discussion an EXAMPLE of covet­ ousness. As usual, He clothes truth in the garb of personality. In order to unmask the true character of covetousness, He shows us a covetous man, the notorious Rich Fool o f Luke’s Gospel. The word-picture is etched in straight, hard, angular lines. It is the story of a man so obviously in the grip of greed that no one can misunderstand. It is the picture of a covetous man at his zenith, of covetousness come to fruition. The word which de­ scribes this man is spoken by God Himself: “ fool” ! Accurately translated, it reads, “ simp leton .” Wicked indeed he was! But above all else, he was stupid! For several reasons this man may be justly labeled “ stupid.” First, he was presumptuous: counting on long life, unharvested crops, and good health. Secondly, he was forgetful: forgetful o f God and forgetful of eternity. But most of all, he was worthy o f the epithet stupid because he spent a life­ time amassing things for himself, which he would never have the privilege of enjoying. Foolishly he had cried to his soul, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years. Take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry.” A modern para­ phrase might read something like this: “You’ve got it made; now have a good time! Don’t be overly bothered by opportunities of service to others. Do not allow needs on every hand to disturb your emo­ tional equilibrium. Do not upset your carefully- balanced ‘way of life’ for any such abstract cause as the ‘Kingdom of God.’ Don’t become a religious fanatic. Remember, God gave good things to be enjoyed, so ENJOY them!” The modem parallel to this story is not hard to find. Strip it of its cultural and historical trappings and you have an exact representation of modern, well-to-do, law-abiding, covetous AMERICA!



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