Luke 12-Gauge (Article)
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Until a couple years ago, I didn't own a gun. Unless you count my BB gun. I hate to admit it to all my deer-hunting, range-shooting buddies, but the only weapon I own isn’t even powerful enough to kill a squirrel (don’t ask me how I know that).
Despite my lack of manly firearms, I recently feel as if I’ve had a lot of experience with the business end of a shotgun. As I’ve read and meditated on Luke chapter 12, I’ve felt the sharp blast of a spiritual shotgun boring into my soul. Not pleasant.
Let me give you a rundown of the 12th chapter of Luke’s Gospel. It begins with 3 different sayings of Jesus that remind those listening that there is more than this life. All of them focus on an eternal judgment. Though as a believer there is no reason for me to fear the coming judgment, I need the reminder to live for the next life—to live in view of eternity. My focus rarely falls beyond the horizon of this life, so it is vital for me to take Christ’s reminders to heart.
But beginning in verse 13 the shotgun pellets penetrate my inner man. Jesus tells the parable of a rich fool. This man was so wealthy that his barns could no longer contain his riches. He decides to tear the barns down, build bigger ones and then “eat, drink and be merry!” That night, God reigns judgment on him. The parable ends with these words, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God” (v.21).
In the past, that was an easy parable for me to agree with and move on. But, this time the hot lead boring through my soul caused me to really evaluate my heart. “Certainly that couldn’t be me. I don’t have bank accounts overflowing with cash.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized that though I may not have those account, I’d certainly like to have them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I desire or expect human wealth. But I do desire a little more in savings, a little less worry, a greater amount to fall back on just in case. Though my circumstances were not the same, I realized that there was a part of my heart that resonated with the rich man’s words. Especially the words he said to himself, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up…” I discovered a desire to have “ample goods” set aside for the future.
But it gets worse…the shotgun had more than one barrel. In the next section of verses, Jesus addressed His disciples and told them to stop worrying about the future. If the ravens had enough food and the lilies were adequately clothed, then why should they worry about dinner or dress? “For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you” (vv. 30-31). You could paraphrase Jesus this way, “Stop living like a pagan! Unbelievers worry about food and clothing—the issues of this life. My disciples concentrate on the next life—the kingdom of God.”
Jesus exposed my heart. He surfaced my hidden desire to have just enough in savings to not worry about the future. I could clothe that desire in spiritual language, but the truth is I wanted to have money in my account so I wouldn’t be forced to trust Him. I would love to have “ample goods” so that food and clothes— or house payments and medical bills—were never a cause for worry. But Jesus says they shouldn’t be a cause for worry because His disciples don’t place their confidence in a full barn, but a faithful God.
The rich fool thought his riches would protect him. Jesus revealed that the only protection comes from His Father. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (v.32). Since the Father will meet every need we have, we can give our money to those in need and begin to fill our pockets with eternal treasure that never fails (v.33).
As I staggered back under the force of the shotgun blast, I saw an ugly truth. There was a hidden part of my heart that, like the rich fool, wanted to accumulate treasure in this life while ignoring the life that is to come. But the words of Jesus, like a healing balm, restored me with the reminder that through His grace my heart can change. Instead of accumulating treasure in this life and ignoring the next, He has called me and enabled me to stop worrying about this life and begin accumulating treasure in the next.