The Christian needs Radical Faith
Luke 12:22-34 ESV
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens:they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow:they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
We are in a short series on the theme “Radical”. As has been mentioned, the idea came from some reflections on the book Radical, but this series is by no means a repetition of that book. We are using the word radical in this way: Jesus came to bring people to a fundamental and extreme change in our relationship with God and our way of life before God. We have seen that true Christianity is based on the Radical Redeemer. Those who follow Christ Jesus get involved in his radical way of life. Last week we considered a group of women who became radical in their relationship with God and in their way of life. They experienced radical change when the encountered the authority of the Radical Redeemer. And they exhibited radical consecration when they joined his followers and contributed financially to Christ’s ministry. Today, we will explore this theme more, and hopefully we all will become more uncomfortable, so that we all embrace radical change.
As Luke tells the story of Jesus, he picks events and teachings that show the glory of the Radical Redeemer. One day a crowd of many thousands gathered, and they were acting very selfishly (12:1). In this situation Jesus began to speak to his disciples or learners. These were people who professed to want to learn more about Jesus Christ and to be taught by him—to come under his authority. So Jesus told them to put God first in their lives (12:4-5). They must not fear people but God. This is part of the basic change that Christ demands. This also meant that Jesus himself must have first place in our way of life; we cannot be ashamed of him (12:8-9). We should not worry, because the Holy Spirit will help us do this (12:11-12).
But some people simply do not pay attention to what Jesus says! While Jesus talks about matters of eternal importance, somebody has his mind set on an earthly inheritance (12:13). Jesus has no use for such greed, and he tells the parable of the Rich Fool (12:14-21). Let us not be deceived; most Americans are the rich fool. Our people store up things for themselves but are not rich toward God. BTW, an indicator of how much greed has control of your heart can be found in answering this question. When you read verse 21, are you more concerned about how much you can store up for yourself or about how you can be rich toward God? That is all Jesus has to say to the crowd at this point, since they are ruled by greed.
But Jesus turns graciously to his disciples and tells us how we can be rich toward God. It is important to realize that he is talking to people who are in the Father’s family by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.
I. The person with radical faith is…
Confident in the Father’s provision (12:22-28) – In order to lead his disciples closer to God, Jesus needs to deal with one of our most stubborn sins: worry or anxiety. To know the right way, we must remove our incorrect ways of doing life. For example, to get the proper benefit from exercise, you must do it the correct way. Or, there is no point to having a smart phone, if you only use it like an old wall phone in your house. You’re not living new life in Christ, if you’re living the old life of unbelief.
A. Remove the old ways of worry or anxiety.
1.The way of worry is wrapped up in physical, temporary concerns like food and clothing. Notice how Jesus hits this point in this section (12:22-24, 27-28). So then, consider how much thought you invest into matters like food or clothing. And these are the basics of physical life! How much more disruptive to waste a lot of thought on non-essential physical matters! All such thoughts are breeding grounds for anxiety.
2.Worry involves us in devoting our energies to less important matters (12:23). Yes, food is essential to life, but there is something wrong with the attitude, “I eat to live, and I live to eat.” No, we are to live for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). Eating food is just a portion of life.
3.Worry is futile (12:25-26). Jesus gives an illustration to impress how futile anxiety about your life is. No one can add one stride (a cubit or eighteen inches) to the span of their life. You can worry all you want, and it won’t let you take one more step than God allows. Our lives are in his control, so worry is useless. If we can’t do the least thing, then it is pointless to worry about the rest. Worry accomplishes nothing!
B. Rebuild with the new way of trust in God.
1.Realize that God cares for his creatures constantly, even for those who take no thought of gathering and preserving food. Jesus is not telling us to stop working. That would contradict other teaching in his word. Instead, he is emphasizing how much God cares! We need to see that the Father cares for us deeply, since we are much more valuable to God than birds. Worry eats away at the truth of God the Father’s care for his people. Faith builds upon it.
2.Realize that God crowns his creation with splendor. This shows his glory as Creator. We strive to get things just right, and our best efforts fall short. The Father makes even the wild flowers beautiful. So you and I can trust his ability to provide whatever splendor is necessary in our lives. For example, have you ever planned long and hard for “the perfect vacation”? And how perfect was it? In fact, how perfect is that splendor you are anxious about? Are you trying to outdo Solomon? Perhaps you should read Ecclesiastes for his evaluation about meaninglessness of human labors “under the sun”. To borrow a phrase from earlier in Luke’s Gospel, “Martha, Martha…” (10:41-42).
Point: We must progress from being people of “little faith” (12:28). As Matt Chandler likes to say to the people in the congregation where he is pastor, “It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way.” We welcome all with little faith, but we want your faith in God to grow. We want you to become rich toward God.
Transition: The person with radical faith is confident in the Father’s provision and…
II. Devoted to the Father’s vision (12:29-31)
Obviously Jesus is talking about repentance at the core of our being here!
A.Renounce the ways of the nations (12:29-30).
1.People of the nations of the world, and that includes people in this American nation, seek after the things of life, like food and drink. If you don’t think so, just look at and listen to the ads in the media. How much money is spent on beer ads alone in one day! What if we could spend that money to feed the poor and to spread the gospel? But I digress… As a learner of Jesus, my vision about life must not be like the people of this world.
2.To move us from that heart attitude, Jesus wants us to replace it with another. Know that the Father knows that you need food and drink and trust his wisdom. Am I starting to get anxious? I must stop and think about how the Father knows what I need. He made me with this needs. He is not surprised by them, like, “Wow, I never knew David needed that!” Such thoughts are silly. Yet even more foolish is to act like God doesn’t know and then worry.
B.Set your heart on what the Father desires (12:31)
1.Jesus directs us to desire God’s reign. We should want to see the rule of God established in the hearts of people. We should have desires for God’s glory. This is where we should be investing our attention. How I can tell the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ to others? How can I make disciples? For example, this kind of attitude produced Paul’s way of life that we can read of in Philippians.
2.Then Jesus makes us a promise: God will give us the food and drink that we need for this life. And then we will be content.
Apply: What does your heart desire—food and drink? Or do you long to see God’s reign established in the hearts and lives of other people?
Transition: The person with radical faith is confident in the Father’s provision, devoted to the Father’s vision, and…
III. Participating in the Father’s mission (12:32-34)
A. Act from the perspective of the Father’s grace (12:32)
1.Notice the truth of the Father’s good pleasure in election (cf. 10:21-22). At the core of a disciple’s life is the reality of electing grace. The Father chose us to be his people. When you know this, it sets you free to live for the glory of God and the good of others.
2.Notice that what Jesus tells us to seek or to set our hearts on is ours by a gift from God. We do not earn anything! All is the gift of God’s grace. Therefore, we ought not be anxious but should trust God with radical faith.
B. Give to those in need (12:33a)
1.Listen carefully to what Jesus says. He does not tell us to sell all our possessions and to give everything to the poor. But he does tell us to do that with our possessions, which is what we see happening in the early church in Acts. (Remember that Acts is part two of Luke’s writings.) Confronted with the needs of others, they gave to alleviate those needs (Ac 2:45).
2.We ought to be giving to help the poor. We do this to some extent. But we must continually consider what we should do. The answer is not simply throwing money at problems. Instead, we must learn to get involved with those in need, so that we can know how to help them. This is a topic that needs more development than I can give in this short time.
Suggestion: Read the book Radical to gain some ideas.
C. Keep proper motives in your heart (12:33b-34)
1.Make eternal investments. One of the main points Jesus taught was to think about eternity and to live for eternity. We need to hear this afresh, when people are obsessed with their best life now. But have you ever thought about a better life forever? Do you have treasure in heaven? Are you using worldly wealth to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ (cf. Lk 16:9)?
2.Remember that your heart always seeks its treasure. You will invest your life in what you value most highly. You will think about it, make plans for it, and dream about it. What are your dreams? Col 3:1-4
Apply: So then, the person with radical faith is confident in the Father’s provision, devoted to the Father’s vision, and participating in the Father’s mission. How active is your faith in pursuing God’s mission?
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.