Todd A. Peperkorn, STM
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Pentecost 11, (Proper 13c) August 4, 2013
TITLE: “Rich Towards God”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for this morning is from Luke 12 as we heard a few moments ago. We especially look at the following verse: “And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”” (Luke 12:15 ESV)
Jesus says in our text that one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. And yet in some ways, it seems as though that is exactly what we do year round. We give thanks for clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals and all I have, as the catechism would put it. But somehow, we have gotten to the point in life we are are more obsessed with stuff than ever before. We are a stuff-centric society, gathered around our possessions as if they are our gods to worship all the time.
But Jesus seeks to draw us away from the things of this world and into Himself. And to do so He gives a parable. The parable of a rich man who is getting richer. The rich man, in fact, is so rich that he has to make more barns to house all of his riches. And because he is so very rich, because he has been blessed so abundantly, the man says to himself, take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.
In other words, the man looks at his possessions and sees in them the point, the purpose to his life. His life was all about stuff. More stuff, so that he could eat, drink and be merry. The man’s life was good. He was happy and well provided for. Those who are happy want more money, because they believe it will make them happier. Those who are unhappy believe that money will solve all their problems.
But the rich man could not see the truth. His world was not what it seemed, and so his life was actually a waste and he never even knew it. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes:
“So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it.” (Ecclesiastes 2:20–21 ESV)
Now there is for us this morning both a warning and hope for the future. The warning from God is obvious: don’t let the things of this world define you. Your life does not consist in the things of this world. They come and go. Houses, cars, food, drink, the toys of the day, these things do not make you who you are, and if you seek to find happiness and joy in them, it is fleeting and will soon be gone. Don’t be trapped by the devil into thinking that these things are the point. They are not.
That’s the Law. Here’s the Gospel. Jesus talks about how the rich man laid up treasures for himself but was not rich toward God. What does it mean to be rich toward God? Being rich toward God has everything to do with faith, for it is by faith that you receive the God things which God gives you this day and every day. St. Paul puts it this way:
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1–4 ESV)
This past week in VBS we learned about about the gifts of God that come From Above. We especially learned about God’s gifts to us in Holy Baptism. In Holy Baptism God comes down to you from above and lifts you up. He forgives your sins. He rescues you from death and the death. And He gives eternal salvation to all of believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.
What’s more, just as all of the stuff of this life will fade away, even so your old life is over. You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. You are now hidden with Christ, buried with Him in Baptism, so that you will be raised with Him on the last day.
That, dear friends, is what this morning is all about. It’s all about faith in the one who gave up everything. Christ our Lord became poor so that you might be rich toward God. He cried out from the cross, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? That is the ultimate in poor. He was forsaken by all, doomed and left to die alone, a poor beggar with nothing but vinegar on a sponge for his food and drink. And yet through His death and resurrection, you are now rich beyond measure. When you look at your life, the thing that makes you who you are, it is Christ’s work that makes you rich.
Really if you think about it, the gifts and things of this world are almost icing on the cake for the baptized. When God gave you His Son in your Baptism, he gave you everything you would ever truly need. But the reality is that He continues to give to you, over and over again. He provides for your soul and your body. He gives out of the abundance of His mercy, so that even in tough times, you are fed and clothed, and you look forward to an eternity together with Him.
So today, as we remember all of the blessings God has given us, let us remember first of all the great gift He gives us by forgiving our sins and drawing us into His holy presence. You are truly rich toward God, and because of that, you may receive the things of this life with thanksgiving. What makes you rich is not your hard work, our great nation, or the ups and downs of the economy. What makes you rich toward God is that God in His riches delivers it all to you for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith, unto life everlasting. Amen.