The title of my message today is “be wise, be ready, be fruitful and be concerned”. In this message, I am going to look at four of the parable that Jesus told to teach up important spiritual truths about this life. I want to look at the four parables, share some reflections and at the end ask some questions of us to see how we are going. Knowing you all as I do, I think you will be encouraged as you answer them.
As I bring this message today I hear the words of Jesus in my mind. These words are “Well done good and faithful servant”. These are the words all faithful followers of Jesus will hear when their time comes to see Him face to face.
1. Be Wise
Luke 12:16-21 NLT – The Parable of the Rich Fool
13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” 16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’ 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ 21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
We see in this parable a man brought a dispute with his brother to Jesus. Problems like this were often brought to Rabbis for them to settle. Jesus didn’t answer the man’s question though. Instead, He told a parable pointing to the bigger issue of having a correct attitude towards money and possessions.
The rich man in Jesus’ story built up a large treasure for himself. He was at the point where he was ready to build bigger barns to contain his crops. He was ready to sit back, relax and enjoy his hard work and the assets it brought him. However, we see that he would have died before he could begin to use what was stored in his big barns.
In verse 20 “God speaks to him” and He uses the word “fool” – a very strong word. The Greek word for fool in the Bible is Aphrone. It means stupid, unwise, egotistic, or foolish. The Bible tells us that a fool denies God’s existence in Psalm 14:1 and a fool trusts in themselves only in Proverbs 28:26. So fool is a pretty strong word in light of eternity.
In this parable Jesus tells us that life is more than material goods; far more important is our relationship with God. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul comes to mind. If we accumulate wealth only to enrich ourselves, with no concern for God or helping others, we will not only enter a Christ-less eternity, but we will do so empty-handed.
A wise Christian understands that there is more to life than money and possessions. A wise person seeks first God’s Kingdom as it tells us in Matthew 6:33. A wise person puts their relationship with God above all else. A wise person does not build up treasures for their own kingdom, but is a good steward and sees all they have as assets not only to bless and provide for their family, but to build God’s Kingdom.
Being wise with money and possessions
Have you been giving money support this church? Have you been sponsoring a child or giving money to support an orphanage overseas to provide for their needs? Have you been supporting an organisation that gives away free Bibles to those who can afford them? Have you been supporting missionaries or Pastors overseas? Have you been sponsoring water projects? Have you been using God’s resources in your care to build His Kingdom? Do you understand that your relationship with God is far more valuable than money and possessions?
If so, well done wise servant.
2. Be ready
Luke 12:35-40 NLT – The Parable of Being Ready for the Lord’s Coming
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready. 39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
In this parable, we see it talks about being ready to serve our masters. In verse 35 it says, “Be dressed and ready for service and keep your lamps burning”. In Jesus’ time, a person “dressed ready for service” (v35) meant tucking your flowing outer robe under his belt or sash. This was done to prepare for travel, fighting or work. It was like being 90% dressed for an important occasion or ceremony. Once the work was done you were nearly dressed right for the formal ceremony.
In today’s terms, it might be like taking off your tie and rolling up your sleeves to do some work. Once the work is done you can roll down your sleeves and put your tie back on and you are ready to go.
Ultimately this story is about is about being ready for Jesus’ return. Verse 40 says, “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” Matthew 24:42 tells us, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come”.
A wise Christian is ready and knows that Jesus could come back at any time. He may come now. I might not be able to finish this message. The Trumpet could sound at any moment (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Because of this a wise Christian has one eye on the sky looking for Christ, and two hands on the plough doing the work of the Lord. Christ may come back today!
Being ready for Jesus’ return
Are you ready for your Master’s return? Are you dressed and ready for service? Do you understand that He could come back at any moment? In the meantime, are you open to His promptings when He speaks and asks you to do something? Are you faithful and obedient when He speaks? When the Master speaks do you do as He says to the best of your abilities? Have you got one eye on the sky and both hands on the plough?
If so, well done ready servant.
3. Be Fruitful
Luke 13:6-9 NLT – The Parable of the Fig Tree
6 Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. 7 Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’ 8 “The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. 9 If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
Bible scholars tell us that the parable of the baron fig tree is representative of Israel. They were planted and cared for and given all the protection, but they produced no fruit. In this parable Jesus is alluding to Micah 7:1 where it says, “What misery is mine! I am like one who gathers summer fruit at the gleaning of the vineyard; there is no cluster of grapes to eat, none of the early figs that I crave.” Jesus came looking for three years hoping to find fruit from Israel, but He found none. For His whole public ministry, He had been teaching in the Temple and the Synagogues, but Israel as a whole had rejected Him and did not produce fruit worthy of repentance. The gardener in the story gives them one more year to produce.
For us today we need to be found fruitful too. We can’t be found to not putting God first. We can’t be found to hiding our lamps under a bushel. We can’t be found to have our talents buried in the ground. If we have five talents we need to produce five more. If we have one talent we need to produce one more. We need to use our gifts to serve God by serving others as it tells us in 1 Peter 4:10.
Church we need to be fruitful and know that when Christ comes back He will bring His reward with Him. In Revelation 22:12 Jesus tells us “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done”.
Being fruitful with your gifts
Are you using your gifts to be a blessing to others? In a practical sense, have you prayed for someone recently in person or when you are by yourself? Have you shared a Scripture or a word of encouragement for someone who needs it? Have you given a meal to someone who is without or struggling? Have you visited someone who is lonely and needs company? Do you volunteer to serve in this church in some capacity? Do you volunteer in the community?
If so, well done fruitful servant.
4. Be Concerned
Luke 15:1-10 – The Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin
Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. 8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
The Pharisees began to criticize Jesus for His interpersonal relationships. “This Man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (v2). In response, Jesus told a number of stories in the next two chapters which clearly guide us as we live with others, especially those who do not share our faith.
If a man with a hundred sheep loses one (v4-7), he will search for it, and rejoice when he finds it. If a woman loses one coin of her dowry (v8-9), she’ll sweep and hunt through the whole house. When she finds it, she will rejoice.
It is the same for God, but with people. There is “rejoicing in the presence of angels over one sinner who repents” (v10). When we repented of our sin and came to faith there was a party in heaven. To God, we are a prize! We are important and valued, and the transformation of a single sinner brings joy, not only to God, but also to all who share His heart of love.
Each of us was like a lost lamb that the shepherd hunted for. He left the 99 to search us out. We are like the woman’s lost dowry coin. Jesus searched all night for us too. He left the glories of heaven to search us out and save us.
For me, this means I need to show concern for others who don’t know Christ or those who have wandered away as we touched on last week. I need to pray for those around me and share my faith so they can come to faith too. I need to reach out with Christ’s love. I can’t be satisfied in knowing I am saved. I can’t be like a cold-hearted Pharisee who is only concerned with following the rules. I need to be concerned for the eternal destiny of those around me.
Being concerned for a lost dying world
Are you someone who is concerned for people who don’t know Christ or have wandered away? Do you share your faith with others in some way? Do you support organisations that help reach people for Christ? Do your pray for those around you that don’t know Christ? If so, well done concerned servant.
These parables and questions show us if we have been wise with our resources, ready for the Lord’s return, being fruitful in our lives and showing concern for those who don’t or have wandered away. Today I want to encourage you in your efforts no matter how you are going. I want to encourage you to be wise, be ready, be fruitful and be concerned.