Luke 12:13-21 "One of the multitude said to him, 'Teacher, bid my brother..."


Dear Friend,

Luke 12:13-21 is certainly an appropriate focus for your Bible study group in this time of economic uncertainty: "One of the multitude said to him, ’Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.’  But he said to him, ’Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?’  And he said to them, ’Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’  And he told them a parable, saying ’The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ’What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’  And he said, ’I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’  But God said to him, ’Fool!  This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God’" (RSV).
At the level of moral teaching, I think the meaning is clear.  The measure of a life is not wealth, or accumulated stuff. None of it will serve any purpose when our "soul is required" to leave these human limitations and move on. And we have no way of knowing when that will be. So as a guide for living a human life, the lesson is not to be distracted by possessions. It’s okay to have possessions and to enjoy them; but only if we remember always that they are not our purpose.
Metaphysically, as a "road map" for our individual spiritual unfoldment, the parable reminds us that this particular human experience is simply one part of a much larger journey.  We are here to grow in spiritual understanding and expression; these are the accomplishments that will stay with us as we move forward beyond these particular lifetimes.  "Seek first the kingdom," Jesus says elsewhere (Mt. 6:33). Wealth and possessions may help us achieve the kingdom by providing means and opportunity for sharing our creative energy; they are not inherently evil. But if they become an end in themselves, then we are turning away from our spiritual purpose of creating the new consciousness that is the kingdom of heaven.

Rev. Ed