“On Materialism” (Luke 12:13-21)

Marven Baldo
5 min readApr 30, 2022

Being or aspiring to be rich is totally fine. But as we work to achieving that goal in the right way, let us also not neglect enriching our souls with good virtues and storing up treasures in heaven by our kindness and good works.

One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” He said to them, “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.” He spoke a parable to them, saying, “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, ‘What will I do because I don’t have room to store my crops?’ He said, ‘This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones; and there, I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease; eat; drink; be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:13-21).

People from all walks of life come to Jesus to seek healing, guidance, and answers to difficult questions because of His grace, power, and profound wisdom.

One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” (13-14)

A young man in the multitude that Jesus was teaching even asked Jesus to act as an arbitrator about an inheritance that the former is having trouble with his brother with. Maybe Jesus can act as a judge from time to time since He is the Messiah, he reasons. The Messiah’s judgment is always right. Therefore, it would be an easy thing for Him.

However, the young man may be posing the wrong question to the wrong person. Though the young man’s reverence to Him is deeply appreciated, Jesus cannot usurp the authority of a real judge. The Word who became flesh and dwelt among His people took on the form of an ordinary townsfolk. But since the young man brought it up, he will get the answer that he needs, one that he may not like to hear.

He said to them, “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses” (15).

What the young man needs is not litigation but a change of heart. Jesus may not act as a lawyer, but He sure will as a doctor to cure him of materialism.

As a rule, we work to earn money because money doesn’t just grow on trees. The only way we would get money is by working for it either through manual or intellectual labor.

We then use the money that we earned to secure our basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing so that we can continue living decently. We also set apart some amount as savings for future unforeseen need. If there is an excess, we might use it to treat ourselves, reward ourselves for our hard work, buy the things that we want, or even indulge in some luxuries that are not bad. If there is still an excess, we can use it to give and to help the real needy. That is typically the ideal way to spend money.

But of course, we have the right to do with our money whatever we will, whether to keep it all to ourselves, squander it, or use some of it to help others. It’s our money, and we worked hard for it. The problem starts when we become obsessed with money and intoxicated with wealth. It’s called materialism.

Money is but a means to an end. We work to earn money so that we can actually use it, not just store it to please ourselves with the fact that we are getting rich or have become rich.

What determines our worth is hardly the amount of money that we make but the character that we build, how we matter to other people. Matter is anything that occupies space. Therefore, we matter when we find a place in other people’s consciousness. If what we only care about is how to maintain and grow our enormous wealth, then it’s as if we are living in a separate universe apart from real people.

“So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (21).

There is a popular axiom that many people say which says that the more you give, the more you receive. It agrees with what the Bible says somewhere in the book of Acts which says that it is better to give than to receive. It means that the more we give of ourselves, the more we become blessed with good things in life.

It’s not bad to be rich or to want to be rich. There are many good things we can do if we have plentiful resources. But as we work out our aspirations of wealth in the right way, let us also not neglect enriching our souls with good virtues and storing up treasures in heaven by our kindness and good works.

He spoke a parable to them, saying, “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly. He reasoned within himself, saying, ‘What will I do because I don’t have room to store my crops?’ He said, ‘This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones; and there, I will store all my grain and my goods. I will tell my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. Take your ease; eat; drink; be merry.” ’ “But God said to him, ‘You foolish one, tonight your soul is required of you. The things which you have prepared, whose will they be?’ ” (16-20)

The book of Job says that life is just like a vapor. Life is too short for us to spend it all in amassing wealth and more wealth instead taking time to enjoy it and put it to good use, like helping others. We can make not only our but others’ lives happy and meaningful with our excellent use of wealth.

When it comes to giving, we don’t do it in hopes of getting something in return. But when we help others, we are actually investing in their good will. Some of those whom we helped might feel eternally grateful to us; and some might — — just might — — return the favor when we are the ones in need. But of course, the best attitude is to forget once we have given help.

Passage by Passage: Luke 12 series, episode 4

by: Marven T. Baldo

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