Luke 12:13-21 Contentment And Service.
Keeping in mind what Jesus had just taught His disciples regarding the need to be faithful in persecution, it strikes one as odd that anyone would ask Jesus to tell their brother to divide their inheritance (v. 13 Cf. Dt. 21:17). Did the questioner fear that his brother might die in the persecution and he would have nothing? Whatever the case may be, it is clear that Jesus did not see it as His place to judge or arbitrate the man’s case. There were others who could adjudicate his concern (v. 14). However, Jesus did warn the man and the crowd listening, not to be overcome with covetousness, “for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (v. 15). Paul was a man who thought he had kept the whole law, until he reflected on the tenth commandment (Rom. 7:7). He would then teach Timothy and his other readers to be content with what they have (I Tim. 6:6-10).
It is contentment that Jesus also taught. Only a fool would lack contentment, ever wanting more (vv. 16-20). Presumably the man had barns big enough to meet his own needs, so when a harvest came in that exceeded his capacity to store it all, why would he then not give the excess to those in need? What could be the point of tearing down his existing barns and building bigger, if it were beyond his capacity to use it all? The man should have thus been rich toward God, which would have yielded to him a better return when he passed from this life to the next (v. 21). What is more, the fool in Jesus’ parable thought that by hording his harvest he could be free from work and “eat, drink, and be merry” (v. 19). As long as we live on this earth, our call to work, to exercise dominion as God’s stewards, will not end. So contentment is also being content with our role in this commission.