Maybe it’s happened to you.
You head to the living room because you hear some fighting. Your kids are wrestling each other. Fighting over who gets to use the iPad to play their game.
So you chuckle. Then you step in. You grab the iPad and tell them that neither one of them gets to use the iPad because they should love each other more than the iPad.
Then, you settle into your easy chair and you open up the YouTube section on your iPad to watch some funny cat videos. But your spouse interrupts you. She wanted to use the iPad to catch up on her Netflix show.
But I was using the iPad first.
But don’t you love me.
Yes, but I can love you and not give you the iPad.
But if you don’t give me the iPad that’s not very fair.
But you’re not being very fair by trying to take it from me.
But you’re kinda mean.
And you’re kinda a jerk.
And the kids come in and they have to separate you.
It’s not an uncommon scenario. Insert anything or any ‘stuff.’ I only used iPad because it’s a fairly, common, problem causing 21st century thing or stuff.
Do things and stuff really make life better? Is the solution just to get another iPad so everyone’s happier?
Let’s take a look at it in God’s Word this morning. We’ll see how important they really are. Before we do, let’s say a prayer:
Strengthen us O Lord by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear. Open our hearts to believe what you want us to believe. Amen.
I. Why Not Things and Stuff
Our Story actually starts with a family disagreement. Luke 12:13 says, “Someone said to Jesus, “Teacher tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Now we don’t know anything about whose fault it is. That’s all the intro we have. We don’t know what the inheritance was. We don’t know who was at fault. We don’t know if the brother stole it from him, if the dad only gave it to his brother or if the man talking to Jesus was trying to be deceptive and get what’s his. The Bible doesn’t say.
What we do know is that this inheritance – this property – this thing or stuff was important enough to the man to be a stinker about it.
But it wasn’t important enough to Jesus to make a ruling.
14 Jesus replied, “Man who appointed me a judge between you?”
Which is an interesting response. Because Jesus is the judge of heaven and earth. Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is extremely fair. Jesus knows all things.
Think what it would be like to have Jesus judge the family disputes you had as a child. You could finally figure out who it was that ate the last piece of your birthday cake and mom can finally find out whose fault it was that her crystal vase got smashed to pieces.
But Jesus didn’t want anything to do with this judgment. Not because he wasn’t a good choice for judge.
But because this wasn’t good enough for him to hear.
15 “Be careful! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
Which is a pretty great warning from Jesus – From God himself. This stuff isn’t more important than your family. Stop thinking that it is.
But for some reason – I bet this man was probably reacting about the same way that we would react – “Yep. Family’s important. Yes Jesus. So…whose inheritance is it?”
So Jesus tells a story to get his point across.
The ground of a certain man produced an abundant harvest. (v.16) He was a wheat farmer which his crops fed himself. He lived off of the land. But there was so much that year he realized that he had all he would have all he needed for food that year. He had enough to make fresh pancakes for every breakfast, southern fried biscuits for lunch, and a fresh loaf of bread for every evening meal. He was set for the year.
The problem was that he still had grain left over. The silo that he had outback was filled to capacity. He only had one because all he had ever needed was one. What was he supposed do with all the excess?
He could give some to the widow next door.
He could give it to the local food bank.
He could help out his farmhand who had a young boy that he could barely feed.
But none of those were really what he wanted. He looked up. In the background, of his home was his barn. It wasn’t anything special. Red. Rustic. It housed what he needed, it got the job done.
But. What if it were more? What if he tore it done. What if he tore it down and rebuilt it – 2, 3, 4 times the size as before, with nice new paint, modern architecture, and the height to be seen by all of the town folk so that they could truly say: “Man that guy is awesome!”
So he got to work. He hired an architect. He hired a demolition crew. He hired contractors, carpenters, mason men, and painters. He watched with pride as his project got done. A project that would show his worth. A project for him to store his stuff. A project that would serve him well.
Finally the project was finished. He got excited to have a party. He invited his family, his friends, and all of the important people in town. He splurged on the finest catering, opened bottles of the finest wines, and prepared to have a party to celebrate his accomplishment.
And when he got to the door, his tuxedo pressed just right and his hair gelled in place. He was ready to “Eat, drink, and be merry.”
He heard a knock at the door. A party guest? He opened it.
Greetings – Great to have you –wait? – God!?!
And God said to him, “You fool! This very night you’ll die. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (v.20)
Here’s the harsh reality. Things and stuff are not the point of this life. Things and stuff cannot make your life better. Things and stuff cannot fix your family.
But we still focus our lives on it.
All I need is…
….the latest iPad for my kid and he’ll love me.
…a new necklace for my wife and we won’t ever have marriage problems again.
…a bigger house for my family so we won’t feel so cramped and get on each other’s nerves.
…a trip to Disney World at the fanciest hotel and with the fanciest Princess party to bring your family together.
…more money and a higher pay grade so that you can get all these things and stuff.
If you think that things and stuff are what’s going to fix your life...you’re wrong. Badly wrong. Jesus said, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (v.21) The “this” refers to “being without anything at your death.” It means without your luxury car and your diamond earrings to be sure – but also:
Without the riches of God.
Without God’s love.
Without his eternal blessings in heaven.
II. The One who Gives Things and Stuff
But if things and stuff won’t improve your family and make your life great than what will?
Ever seen a sparrow before?
A sparrow is a tiny little bird. It weighs about 2 ounces. They aren’t rare. There are tens of thousands of them in Raleigh alone. If you wanted to buy one at the pet store, it’d cost about a buck. It’s a fairly worthless thing and stuff.
But God cares for it.
This is a wild flower. It’s a fairly common flower here in Raleigh. Do you know what a common flower does for work? Nothing. It doesn’t have a W-2. It doesn’t have a job. It doesn’t work as a waiter or a construction worker. It doesn’t have a lot of things and stuff.
But God cares for it. He clothes it as beautifully as the high dollar section of Macy’s.
God didn’t die for sparrows. God didn’t die for wildflowers. God died for you.
If God died for you, don’t you think he cares about you? Deeply? In His heart? Things and stuff don’t care about you. Things and stuff are inanimate objects. But not God!
Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. (Luke 13:32)
God gave you a lot more than the early worm.
God gave you a lot more than a beautiful flowerlike outfit.
God gave you his kingdom.
Even if it cost Him everything that he owned! 2 Corinthians 8:9 says this, “Our Lord, Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor that you might inherit his riches!” I love that passages. It describes how Jesus had all things. He owned all things – rubies, emeralds, and diamonds – lightning bolts, lava, and mountain tops.
But he gave it all up.
He gave it all up for a manger…for a pair of walking sandals…for an old, bloody cross…for a gravestone….
When he came bursting forth from the tomb on Easter, he brought with him eternal riches. He reached into his wallet full of forgiveness and passed out the exact amount that you needed. He adorned you with dazzling jewelry of peace with him. He put a crown of righteousness on your head that will never spoils, perishes or fades. He clothed you – in fresh, crisps, cooler than cool, hotter than hot, linens of eternal life in Him!
Here is the reality then. The greatest is not a thing or a stuff, but the greatest is the One who gives things and stuff.
God is the One who gives what you need to make families whole.
God is the One who gives what you need to be a part of his family.
And God is the most important One for you to spend your time seeking.
III. WHAT NOW?
But it’s nothing compared to God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is filled with peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, eternal life, and the powerful love of the Lord! Scripture says, “Seek his kingdom.” His kingdom is found in Jesus Christ.
Seek Jesus like the world is seeking Pokemon.
If you want to improve your family, seek Jesus first.
If you want to improve your marriage, seek Jesus first.
If you want to be a part of a family, when your own family has disappointed you, seek Jesus first.
You don’t even have to go around town to do it. Not like Pokemon Go. The scavenger hunt is lots easier. I’ll tell you where Jesus is – in this Bible!
So keep that in mind with your family.
And listen in on the conclusion to that verse, “Seek his kingdom and these things will be given to you as well.” God’s not gonna give you less than you need. He’s going to give you all that you need. Clothing and shoes; food and drink; house and home; family! If you seek his kingdom first, he will not forget to provide you with all you need for this life.
2. Remember What Family Really Is
Psalm 127 says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord.”
Proverbs 31 says, “A noble wife who can find.”
Proverbs 1 says, “Hear my Son, your father’s instruction, for they are like a graceful garland for your head and neck.”
What do these passages have in common? A very important truth. Family is a gift.
Whether your family is biological or adopted or it's’ really only your church family – view family the way that God wants you to view family. As a very important gift from Him.
That means you’ll love them more than stuff.
You’ll treat them with tenderness and care like your most important stuff.
You’ll give up some of your stuff if it helps them.
3. Give a Lasting Gift
Have you ever bought your kids something expensive? Maybe an expensive pair of frilly boots from Nordstroms. About $200.
But you love your kids. You started scrounging for money. You sold some of your old jewelry. You gave up some of the money you were gonna spend on you. Your husband puts in a few more hours at work. You start selling LuLaRoe in all your spare time. Till you have enough money to go to the fancy aisle at TJ Maxx and pick out a pair on sale. You put it into a gift bag and surprise her with it one night at home.
She opens it up. You’re filled with excitement and…
…Oh these? This style isn’t in anymore.
That’s the thing with things. They don’t last. Things and stuff go out of style. Things and stuff spoil. Things and stuff fade. Things and stuff run out of battery power.
But Jesus doesn’t. If you give your kids Jesus, you’ll have given them all that they need for this life and all that they need for eternity.
Think about that when you bring them for Sunday school.
Think about that when you read them a Bible story.
Think about that when you are struggling to get them here for church.
Think about that when you are inviting your spouse to join you.
You aren’t just giving them a cup of Starbucks coffee in worship and a sugar cookie at fellowship.
You’re giving them eternal riches.
You’re giving the everlasting forgiveness for Jesus.
You’re passing on the crown of life.
You’re giving them some clothes that never go out of style – the righteous robes of heaven.
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21)
How true that statement is. If your treasure is things or stuff, that’s where your heart will be -- in things and stuff.
But if your treasure is in God, that’s where your heart will be – with God, in heaven. And if your treasure is also your family…then having faithfully shared the Gospel…there your heart, your family, will be also. Amen.