First Things First

Key Verse: “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
—Luke 12:15

Selected Scripture:
Luke 12:13-21

THE SETTING OF LIFE’S priorities properly is a very important element in the development of the child of God. It is of such importance that our success or failure in this effort likely will yield its results in our overall faithfulness to God. Jesus gave us as well as his disciples, needed counsel in this regard.

Jesus was approached by one of his listeners who asked him to speak to a family member about dividing the family inheritance, rather than having it go to one individual. (Luke 12:13) Knowing the wisdom of Jesus’ teaching, he felt certain that the Master would resolve the issue ‘fairly’, and suggest that the inheritance be divided.

Jesus’ response to the man’s request was twofold. First, he said it was not part of his ministry to become involved in these types of issues. He continued, asking, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (Luke 12:14) Jesus saw it as none of his business to become involved in the temporal affairs and conflicts of others, even those who professed to be his followers. The Apostle Paul repeated this sentiment when he admonished the church, “Study to be quiet, and to do your own business.”—I Thess. 4:11

More important was the second part of Jesus’ response in our Key Verse. He warned the man against covetousness, stating that the most important things of life do not relate to the abundance of earthly possessions. (Luke 12:15) This should be particularly true among all striving to follow in Jesus’ footsteps of sacrifice.

Further illustrating this lesson, Jesus gave a parable: “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? … This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. … I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”—Luke 12: 16-21

Those striving to follow in the footsteps of the Master should use the major portion of time along spiritual lines. And although temporal needs must be reasonably met for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible, these should not be the most pressing and time-consuming issues of life to the Lord’s people. The ‘rich man’ in the parable was so consumed with the care and safety of his riches, he put in jeopardy his relationship with God. Even after safely laying up his goods, he did not look toward serving God, but to living a life of ease and pleasure according to the flesh.

This parable, and other scriptures, give clear evidence that we must “lay up for [ourselves] treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:19-21), and that this work should be the driving force of our lives. The Apostle Paul says of these that they are “laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”—I Tim. 6:19

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