“O you of little faith!” (Luke 12:28). That’s me.
In January I was reworking the family budget for the New Year. As I thought through what we might give for the spreading of Jesus’ kingdom, I was tempted to be afraid. What if I’m jeopardizing my future? What if I’m giving away my children’s education? What if I don’t save enough for our retirement? And the van isn’t going to last much longer.
I toyed with the thought of maybe giving less to save more.
But the next day the Lord graciously took me to Luke 12. It’s where Jesus says, “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. How much more value are you than birds?”
The message hit home: Jon, don’t seek your security in what you can store up.
Part of me wanted to justify my fear-based impulse with, “Yes, but Proverbs 6 says to consider the ant who uses the summer and fall to store food for the winter.” But this was quickly disarmed by Jesus’ parable in Luke 12 of the rich fool who thought he could secure his future by building and filling larger barns with earthly abundance.
So what’s the difference between the ant and the rich fool? God commends the ant’s diligence not his pursuit of security from accumulation. But in Luke 12:13-21, it isn’t the rich man’s diligence God rebukes. It’s his foolish self-sufficiency, pursuing security in what he can store up on earth.
But Jesus goes beyond telling us to stop laying up treasure on earth. He says, “Sell your possessions, and give to the needy” (Luke 12:33a). Don’t just refrain from building bigger barns. Give away (at least some of) what’s in your current barns.
What does Jesus have against storing up treasure for the future?
Absolutely nothing. He’s all for it—provided that it’s the right treasure for the right future. In fact, he says, “Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys” (v. 33b).
Jesus wants us to be unbelievably wealthy and free from anxiety. Prosperity preachers get that concept right. Where they err is teaching that God always wants to provide us with an abundance of earthly moneybags. That’s not what Jesus says.
Here is Jesus’ logic: you have a very wealthy Heavenly Father who has promised to provide everything that you need. You don’t need big barns on earth because you have God. Having big barns is a big temptation to trust in barns and not in God.
The world believes more barns equal more security. That’s why Jesus says, “All the nations of the world seek after these things” (v. 30a). If you seek your security the same way the world seeks security, God receives no glory. But if you trust God enough to give away what the world seeks and live in raven-like freedom, it shows the world that God is more than enough for you—even if they think that means you’re nuts.
Well, I need to be reminded of this frequently. So I listened again to John Piper’s message, “Magnifying God with Money.” He seeks to help us believe Jesus who said, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:23). Believing this promise is the key that will unlock you from the chains of earthly security and free you to be radically generous.
Here at Desiring God we also depend on our generous Heavenly Father, who moves friends to help support this ministry financially. Such gifts allow us to put all of John’s sermons as well as the messages from our Conferences online free of charge. If you have regularly benefited from this online ministry, I invite you to magnify God with money by helping us make it available to others.
Jesus is very jealous that we store our treasure in the right place, because “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (v. 34). He wants our hearts to be with God, not with what’s inside our barns.
So being a man of little faith, who has never really known want, and has only been treated by God with overflowing mercy and kindness, I am resolving again to turn away from sinful unbelief, seek first the kingdom, give away what I’m tempted to put in my “barn,” and trust that Father will continue to provide everything I need when I need it (Luke 12:31). Pray for me.
Pursuing raven-like freedom with you,