Impoverished Soul & Earthly Treasure

A man’s true life consists of the abundance of healthy relationships he or she has.

I recommend a short prayer to you…

Lord Jesus, you said the most important commandments involve us relating to God and other people.  Father, in the name of Jesus, heal me and help me to cultivate a healthy relationship with you and then the people around me.

Let’s start with a concise statement from the Lord Jesus Christ concerning earthly or material possessions.  Just in case you immediately associate the term “earthly possessions” with rich people only, let me assure you, earthly possessions are not restricted to just financial wealth.  It also includes storing up any treasure here on earth as opposed to storing up treasure in heaven.  The possessions Jesus mentions refer to ANYTHING in the physical realm that will cease to exist once the earth as we know it ceases to exist.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Luke 12:15 (NIV)

He told the people, “Be careful to guard yourselves from every kind of greed. Life is not about having a lot of material possessions.”

Luke 12:15 (GW)

After carefully reading the passages above, I draw your attention to some very important aspects of Jesus’ statement.  First aspect, there are many different types of greed or covetousness.  Second aspect, a man’s life on earth does consist of something; it’s just not the volume of things he possesses.

Possessions refer to anything that can be attained in the material or earthly realm.  Yes, this includes money, and anything that can be purchased with it, but it also includes many other things.  One prime example of this is accumulation of spiritual works.  For example prayers for healing, using our mouths to speak the heart of God for a people or doing warfare against the forces of darkness.  All of these examples are considered material or earthly possessions.  This is true because everything I’ve listed will cease to exist once we enter heaven.  Paul helped us understand this in his first letter to the Corinthian Church in chapter 13 verses 8 thru 10.

After taking a brief glimpse at the depth of Jesus’ statement, you should be asking yourself, well, what does true life consist of?  Great question.  As best I can tell, Jesus answered this question in the following manner.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”  “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”   Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him.  To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices (emphasis mine).”  When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.

Mark 12:29-34 (NIV)

When asked about the most important communication from God to human beings, Jesus responds by saying that our relationship with God and other people are most important.  So, it seems fair to say a man’s true life consists of the abundance of healthy relationships he or she has.  In addition, pay close attention to the affirmation Jesus gives the man he’s talking with.  The man explicitly says that healthy relationships are more important than offerings and sacrifice.  I ask you to take a second and really consider this reality.  Scripture explicitly identifies the fact that Jesus considers this mans revelation wise.  We would do well to truly understand this.

Let’s look at the parable Jesus shared to clarify His statement on greed.

And he spake a parable unto them, saying, 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?  And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.  And 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 (KJV)

Then he used this illustration. He said, “A rich man had land that produced good crops.  He thought, ‘What should I do? I don’t have enough room to store my crops.’  He said, ‘I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones so that I can store all my grain and goods in them.  Then I’ll say to myself, “You’ve stored up a lot of good things for years to come. Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’  “But God said to him, ‘You fool! I will demand your life from you tonight! Now who will get what you’ve accumulated.’  That’s how it is when a person has material riches but is not rich in his relationship with God.”

Luke 12:16-21 (GW)

One of the revelations embedded in the illustration Jesus shared is found in the original Greek meaning of three words.  Let’s take a look at the Greek origin of these three words and we’ll see how greed progressively produces poverty in human souls.  In the context of this article, the impoverished soul refers to the person that has great material or earthly possessions but has neglected cultivating a healthy relationship with God and with people.

On the surface, the wrong done by this certain rich man isn’t apparent.  However, if we dig into the original intent of the Lord by understanding the specific words He used, the issue becomes crystal clear.

  • Fruits (G2590) – The meaning of the Greek transliteration of the word fruits, used by Jesus in verse 17, means natural fruit plucked from a tree.  This is fruit that no human can say he or she produced.
  • Fruits (G1081) – The meaning of the Greek transliteration of the word fruits, used by Jesus in verse 18, means offspring as in the fruit of a man’s loins.  This word is commonly used in scripture to refer to human offspring. see Matthew 3:7, 12:34, II Corinthians 9:10
  • Goods (G18) – The meaning of the Greek transliteration of the word goods, used by Jesus in verse 18, means inanimate objects or things that bring pleasure to those that have them.  Think of your favorite meal or your dream car.

Now that we understand the meaning of these three words, lets assemble their meanings in the greater context of Jesus’ parable.

  • The certain man was rich to begin with.  According to the Word of God, it’s God Himself that gives human beings the power to get wealth to the intent that God can keep His promises to human beings during their time on earth.
  • The original Greek meaning of the word ground (G5561) makes it clear that the rich man’s field was an empty expanse before God caused it to bring forth a robust harvest.  According to the Word of God, human beings can sow seeds and water those seeds, but God alone is the one that causes seed to produce a harvest.
  • It should be clear that this certain man had clear evidence of God’s blessing on his life and possessions.
  • The passage says, as a result of the robust harvest, the certain rich man began to think within himself or counsel himself.  There’s a legal saying that goes, “the man that is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client”.  The Word of God says that there’s safety in the multitude of counsel.
  • The certain rich man says to himself, I don’t have enough storage to handle the immense harvest.  This man is using himself as the judge concerning the wisdom of his plan.  However, at this point, it’s clear that he hasn’t assumed ownership of the harvest, as indicated by the word for fruits used by Jesus.
  • In verse 18, after counseling himself on how he should handle this immense harvest from God, according to Jesus, the man makes a decision to keep it all.  In addition, while thinking within himself, the man begins to think of the harvest as something he’s responsible for producing.  In other words, he begins to take personal credit and ownership of that which God allowed him to be the steward of.  The evidence of this is the fact that there’s no evidence that he sought God’s counsel.
  • In verse 19 the certain rich man begins to counsel himself on what he now clearly sees as his success alone.  Verse 19 tells us exactly what the certain rich man determined to do with the material or earthly possessions entrusted to him.  His counselor (himself) thought is the right time to enjoy the “fruit of his labor”.
  • In verse 20 we see the clear miscalculation of the certain rich man.  Instead of being a good steward over his possessions and spending time cultivating a healthy relationship with God and people, he spent all of his time tending to his material or earthly goods.  When he appears before God, as we all will, God calls him a fool.  He’s called a fool because he spent his entire life tending to earthly things and neglecting the development of his soul which leads to a healthy relationship with God and with people.

To wrap it up, in verse 21, Jesus brings the core issue to the surface.  This man was judged as a fool by God because he ignored the truth of the most important commandments.  In essence, the deceitfulness of greed caused him to store up treasures on earth but none in heaven.  A healthy relationship with God and cultivating healthy relationships with the people around us is THE ONLY WAY to store up treasures in heaven.

Here’s the question we all must ask ourselves; are we rich toward God?  If we think we’re rich toward God, do we point to the accumulation of things we’ve acquired, the volume of acts we’ve performed for others, the amount of works we’ve done for Jesus, or do we reference the abundance of healthy relationships we’ve intentionally cultivated?

I recommend a short prayer to you…

Lord Jesus, you said the most important commandments involve us relating to God and other people.  Father, in the name of Jesus, heal me and help me to cultivate a healthy relationship with you and then the people around me.