Pentecost 11
August 19, 2001
Luke 12:13-21
"A Terrible Waste of Life"

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INTRODUCTION:  The slogan of the United Negro College Fund Appeal reads: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste!" This indeed is true, but it is far worse to waste a life!  Every person faces the question of what he has done with his life. A youth may ask: "To what shall I give my life?"  A senior citizen may ask: "What did I do with my life?"  It is a shame to waste your life when you have but one life to live. It is a tragedy to waste a life on unimportant causes.

Then there is also the future prospect of facing God to give an accounting of the stewardship of your life. The parable in today's Gospel is the take of a man who wasted his life on the acquisition of material goods. The words of the Lord "This night your soul is required of you" should lead us to consider a life that is wasted.

1.   A life that is wasted is motivated by greed. Mark the words of the Savior!     (v. 15) And he said unto them, Take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in abundance of the things, which he possesseth. 

These words run contrary to the motivation and the thinking of this world. These words are especially fitting for my generation and the ones which are coming up, We baby boomers have never had it so good. Unlike the children of the war year's generation who grew up through the great Depression - they experienced true poverty and knew what it meant to go without. My generation has had the world at its fingertips and much of it handed to us on a sliver platter!

Listen carefully to the Savior's words. A person's true life is not made up of the things he owns Jesus reminds us. The world will never understand this concept. Remember the story of the woman who sold virtually everything she had to purchase expensive perfume to anoint the body of Jesus?  Judas reacted sarcastically that the money could have been spent for a more noble cause such as feeding the poor. But then that suggestion was a straw man's defense as the same green jealousy monster too motivated him!

Covetousness, envy, avarice, gluttony all are different hues and strands of the same rainbow called greed. Slay the dragon of greed for a person's true life is not made up of the things that he owns.

2.   A life that is wasted is one, which accumulates great possessions for the self - v. 18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my grain and my goods.

The man tore down his barns and built even bigger barns. "So what's wrong with that preacher! Arent we to build for the future? Is Jesus frowning upon those who might be thinking about expanding their business?" No! And again, no. Expanding business, adding on and growing one's method of means is not in and of itself sinful.

What got this man into trouble was his thinking: that it was his possession that had made him. Remember, Jesus told this parable to those who were piling up riches only for themselves but were in the end spiritually destitute.

Accumulating great possessions is not the problem. That's the surface issue. Jesus' aims at the heart.  What is your heart condition? Dickens's Christmas classic A Christmas Carol and the Hollywood classic It's a Wonderful Life are only updates of this original parable. Scrooge and old man Potter became the villains because they had become overwhelmed by their possessions. It was their possessions, which consumed them. Thus, a man all wrapped up in himself becomes a very small package. To have a blessed life and a well fulfilling life we need first to be rich toward God. The wasted life comes when possessions crowd everything out.

3.   A life that is wasted is one devoted only to pleasure - v. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry.

Look at the man's motivation. This is the key to understanding this parable. He thought to himself "I have years ahead of me - "I'm gonna think only of myself" - only he died that night.  He went to bed thinking of how he would spend his millions and never had the opportunity to enjoy one cent.

It's important to think about your future - your home, your retirement, and your children's education. What would happen if you were to go to bed tonight for the last time? Would others be included in your future plans or would your focus be only on yourself? The answer to that question begins to answer the question whether your worldview only involves yourself.

CONCLUSION: Where does this parable hit you? That was Jesus' main intent to wake us up and to get us to think. This week consider your many blessings. How is it that you intend to spend your future? Are your finances really your own? Dare no one tell you how to spend your money? Do you include others in your future? Do you manage your money or does it manage you? Is even God mentioned, or are you an island unto yourself? If there we to be an audit of your life tonight what would the accounting be That's the question we all must ponder!

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Pentecost 11 Sermon (Series C) from 1998