You have no doubt heard the saying, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’. But when it comes to
inheritances, you often find that ‘where there’s a will there’s a quarrel’! If there is one thing that has
created more conflict in families than any other issue, it would surely be the division of the family
In Luke chapter 12 we have the story of a family in conflict over this very issue.
Jesus was in the
midst of a crowd numbering ‘many thousands’. He had been teaching this crowd about some deeply
important issues, the big questions about life and death, the importance of being in a right place
with God and of being sure of where they would spend eternity. It is during this time that a man in
the crowd shouts out; “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me”. It is obvious that
this man had not heard a word that Jesus had said. All he was interested in was the here and now,
and getting his hands on what he thought was rightfully his. The fact that he was willing to air his
dirty washing in public shows just how desperate he was. He assumed that Jesus would have to grant
his demands, because this was a justice issue and Jesus was a just man. No doubt he thought that by
asking Jesus publicly, the extra pressure of the crowds would be used in his favour.
But Jesus would never allow public opinion or anything else to derail his agenda. He came for one
purpose and that purpose was to restore people to God. He was therefore not about to let this man
distract him from what was important by getting embroiled in domestic quarrel. But rather than
dismiss the problem, he uses this man’s demand to teach him and the thousands gathered there an
important lesson about life. This man came thinking his problem was a justice issue, but Jesus sees
right through him to his real issue. This man was driven not by justice, but by greed. Jesus exposes
the problem; “ Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed”. As he often did, Jesus
proceeded to tell a story to teach them about the dangers of greed. He told the story of a farmer
who had been blessed by God with a bumper crop. The farmer was confronted with a logistic
problem. He did not have barns big enough to store his new produce. After considering his options,
he decides to tear down his old barns and build a bigger ones so as to store his crop and secure his
future. It sounded like a good business plan. He now had financial security and with it the prospect
of a comfortable lifestyle through retirement. There was only one problem, a massive problem that
he had overlooked. He did not control the future. That was God’s domain. That very night, the first
night of his retirement, he suddenly died. The tragedy was not that he was unable to enjoy one cent
of his newly acquired wealth. The real tragedy was that he had left God totally out of his plans. He
was a fool, because he had not spent his life preparing to be ready for the next. He entered eternity
with no relationship with God and no hope of ever changing that terrible separation.
Jesus tells this story to warn each of us not to make the same mistake. He concludes with these
words “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards
God has been incredibly rich towards us. Not only has he provided us with every material thing we
need in this life, but more importantly he has provided us with the gift of eternal life through the
sacrifice of his Son, Jesus. The response he requires is gratitude, expressed through generosity of
our possessions, our time and our abilities in his service.
Are there some bigger barns in your plans which you may need to reconsider?