Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

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Lafayette, CO 80026
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PENTECOST 8 – August 4, 2019 – Luke 12:13-21 “GUARD AGAINST VANITY”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read, from Luke 12.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Vanity is defined as “excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements,” OR “the quality of being worthless or futile.” It is into this second category that Solomon places a number of human activities.  It is “worthless and futile” to devote yourself fully to work, or to becoming wealthy, or studying and learning.  It yields the kind of behavior described in our text.
  • The Epistle Lesson also describes a number of “vain, worthless, and futile” activities: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, lying.  What Jesus points out in His encounter with the man is covetousness, greed, the desire for wealth.  There was likely also some anger, wrath, malice, and slander within this man who felt cheated by his brother.
  • Life is, of course, filled with many frustrations! But many of the frustrations that we face are the result of “vain” behavior, that is, craving things, cherishing things, pursuing things that are evil, or that have the potential of bringing us great problems and difficulties.  And so they do!
  • Jesus teaches us a different way. First, He assures us of His role as our Savior and Lord.  Then He invites us to “seek the things that are above.”  And finally, He bids us to let go of vain and useless and evil things.  And as we see in our text, and in numerous other places in Holy Scripture:


I.  Striving For And Accumulating Wealth Is Vain And Foolish


Text:  [the rich man said to himself]  “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all of my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be mercy.’  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 the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”


Application:  Solomon spoke essentially the same thing:  “I hated my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool?  Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun.  This also is vanity!”  Solomon left his kingdom to his son, Rehoboam, who was indeed a fool and lost the ten northern tribes of Israel to Jeroboam, thus setting up the two – kingdom nation of Israel.  What a travesty!   


Statement:  God wants us to understand these things, and so does the Lord Jesus Christ.  The apostle Paul wrote:  “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.”  [1 Tim. 6:9]  He also wrote:  “We brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” [1 Tim. 6:7]  How utterly vain and useless then, ultimately, is the love of money and earthly things!  But as the apostle Paul reminds us:


II.  If We Are Raised With Christ [By Faith], Then We Should Set Our Minds On Heavenly Things


Epistle:  “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”


A.  This Means Being Dead To Earthly Things


Epistle:  “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”


B.  And This Means Being Alive To Christ Forever


Epistle:  “Your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ Who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”


Statement:  Again, we see the vain nature of focusing on temporal things around us, no matter what they may be, without being rich toward God.  This is quite dangerous, as Paul warned us:  “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” [1 Tim. 6:9]  But obviously God would spare us from all of this, and Jesus too.  After all, God sent His Son Jesus to be the Lamb of God, Who takes away all of these sins – along with our guilt and punishment!  He does not want us to fall back into idolatry, ruin, and destruction.


Application:  This is precisely why God’s Word is constantly admonishing us to avoid wealth, to give generously to God and to those in need, and to invest our time, talents, and treasure into His kingdom!   It is as Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” [Matt. 6:21]  It is also true, what Jesus observed:  “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! . . . It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” [Mark 10:23,25]  So Jesus warns against the idolatry of covetousness, which is a horrible vanity, and to invest ourselves in His heavenly kingdom.  And so:


III.  Jesus Urges Us To Live Wisely – Not Seeking Personal Wealth But Being Rich Toward God


A.  Putting To Death Whatever Is Of The Old Sinful Nature


Epistle:  “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you.”


B.  Always Feeding The New Nature


Epistle:  “Put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.” 


Statement:  Again, this is the loving and beautiful will of the One Who died for us, to bring us forgiveness and salvation!  He desires not only our redemption and eternal life, but also to renew our inner nature with a “new self,” and restoration of the image of God! 


Application:  Such is the good and gracious will of God for each of us – to deliver us from the vanity of covetousness and other evils and to free us for a great life of love and decency!  So the warning to “GUARD AGAINST VANITY.”


Conclusion:  I don’t think that any of us really wants to be “vain.”  Who would want to be spending their energy and resources on things that are “worthless and futile.”  It is our sinful nature that compels us – even contrary to the love of Christ – to capitulate to earthly desires and passions.  So we confess our sins, and rejoice to receive the assurance from God that our sins are all forgiven and cleansed away in the blood of Jesus Christ.


But the whole blessed point of tithing – of giving away money and wealth generously – is precisely to keep our hearts with God.  In this way our hearts are kept healthy and pious, and we are renewed in the image of God.  This is blessed for others, and blessed also for us.  And God is surely well pleased with us.


So let us imbibe this wisdom of God’s love, and “GUARD AGAINST VANITY.”  Let us live in Christ’s great love, and let that be our chief joy and consolation in this life.  Amen.


Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.