11 August 2013Luke 12:32-40
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (v. 34)
Today's reading is part of a longer passage where Jesus speaks to his disciples about God's provision and how the disciples should use what they are given. The topic was initially inspired by a request from a person in the crowd for Jesus to tell his brother to share the family inheritance (Luke 12:13). Jesus replies by pointing out that the real issue here is greed, and warning the crowd of people of the foolishness of prioritising material gain.
After speaking to the crowd Jesus turns to his disciples. He encourages them to trust God to provide for them, expanding his proclamation found in Luke 12:31 and Matthew 6:33: 'Seek first the kingdom of God and you will be given all you need'. In the verses preceding today's passage, Jesus tells his followers that it is God who provides for the flowers and birds and people, and it is their responsibility to seek God's kingdom first rather than worrying about themselves.
In verse 33 the outworking of seeking first the kingdom of God is to be generous to the poor, prioritising others above yourself. Concern for the poor and needy is a strong theme throughout the Bible with more than 2,000 verses that help us to understand God's heart for justice.
Verse 34 says that "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also". When the person in the crowd had asked about his inheritance, Jesus recognised that he was motivated by caring about himself. His decisions about money were motivated by his heart, that is, his priority of himself and wealth for himself. But Jesus prioritises marginalised and disaffected people so here he encourages his disciples to spend their money - their 'treasure' - to help these people. He urges his followers to invest financially into the kingdom by selling their possessions and giving generously to those living in poverty - to put their money where their mouths are.
- If someone were to look at your bank statement and your diary, where would they think your priorities lie?
- What do you think is the right balance between faith and giving, and responsibly providing for yourself and your family?
- To what extent do you think "sell your possessions and give alms [to the poor]" (v. 33)' is a literal instruction for Christians today?