13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” Luke 12:13 (NAS)
Down through time, “inequities” in distributing an heritance have driven wedges in families. At least we’ve seen this kind of scene depicted in movies and novels of family members storming out of a meeting where the last will and testament was read, thinking they were robbed. The English system by the way for hundreds of years had everything going to the oldest son (“primogeniture”) with hard luck outcomes for women.
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit the parent’s entire or main estate in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child or any collateral relative. Wikipedia
In Jewish culture, it was not unusual for a rabbi to be asked to chime in on a civil dispute. It is safe to say this man was consumed with anger that he had gotten the short end of the stick, so much so that out of the blue he blurted out this impertinent request of “the teacher.” Jesus was not, however, commissioned to serve as arbiter in matters of settled law and did not want to bear a burden likely leading to what Moses experienced (see Acts 7:35), but he relished the opportunity to teach a sermon on the topic of greed, which was at the heart of the matter.
The desire for wealth and possessions occurs at every economic strata. We always want more and it’s always possessed by someone else. Covetousness is greed’s companion, or might we say the other side of the coin. We think that we’ll have arrived if we just acquire this or that, but Jesus says this about that.
“Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
A quick fly-by gives us these three insights.
- Be on the lookout for and guard against greed being a driving force in your life. It is manifested in many ways, many of which are very subtle.
- What is desired can be acquired, yes, but it may not, let me say from personal experience, will not provide ultimate fulfillment.
- A fixation on the acquisition of something the world has to offer will fall far short of what is truly “life” every time.
If I can get this I can get that should never be our mantra. Trust Jesus for your provisions or you’ll surely be left holding an empty bag.
28 He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.
29 He who troubles his own house will inherit wind,
And the foolish will be servant to the wise hearted. Proverbs 11:28–29