Good evening, my name is Titus Keller. When I was 17 years old, I said to my bibleteacher: Yes, I will come to the summerbibleconference. But, first I have to take a test in Karate. I will come one day late. He did not accept this, but challenged me: Seek first the kingdom of God, then all these things will be given to you as well. I accepted. And after that bibleconference God not only made my karatemaster give me the certificate without testing me. But God also -15 years later- brings me here today to preach about Seeking the kingdom of God.
But Seek His Kingdom
Key Verse 12:31
“But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”
In this passage Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool, a man who completely missed the aim in life. It is a warning not to lose our hearts in a materialistic world, but to prepare treasure in heaven. Then Jesus tells his disciples: Do not worry. Instead he gives them a new life direction: Seek the kingdom of God, and these things will be given to you as well.
I. The Rich Fool (13-21)
Look at verse 13. Jesus was surrounded by a big crowd as usual. Someone said to him. “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me (13).” We do not know much about this man, but what we do know is that his father died and his brother took all of the inheritance. The elder brother should have divided the inheritance according to the Law of Moses, but he took it all for himself. There were experts for these cases that this man could have hired; an inheritance lawyer or an arbiter. But they also wanted money for their work. Only Jesus never took money for his help. So this man came to Jesus to use his authority to get his money.
Now look at V14. “Jesus replied: Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you? A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Jesus refused to help this man in the way he asked. Instead he warned him and the crowd: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed.”
Greed is an excessive desire for money, wealth and power. According t to Colossians 3:5, the real problem of greed is that the greedy person values money or possessions more than God. Greed destroyed the relationship to his brother. Greed blinded him not to know what he really needed.
Jesus said: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (15b). Life is much more than possessions. You can win the whole world, but you will not have more life. Because life comes from God, not from possessions. Genesis 2:7 says, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” As human beings we need a relationship to our Creator to experience real life, happiness and meaning.
Jesus wanted to help the people understand this better. So he started to tell a parable (16b-19). The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, “What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.” Then he said, “This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” He really worked hard, sowed, reaped, tore down his barns, and built bigger ones, he was very diligent. He was an exemplary successful and rich man. People envied him, because they saw his wealth and success. At this moment there are also many people trying to build their lives like this rich man.
But then something unexpected happens. Jesus continues (V 20): But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” At this moment, the parable gets a new perspective. For the almighty God shows up and calls the smart man a fool. Suddenly all the crops become so worthless, his barns, his town and his whole life become like dust in sight of the almighty Creator of the Universe. The next day the man would be dead. Then his sons or someone else could fight over the inheritance. But he himself would stand before God. And what possessions would he have then? What would be the essence of his life? His grain or crops? His saved money on the bank? He realized, that before God he had nothing! Jesus closed the parable: “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich towards God” (V21).
The crowd now was very quiet. You don’t have seven lives like in a computer game. You have only one life. There is no rehearsal or do-overs. You are already living it. And this man had lived his only life as a fool in the eyes of God. That’s what should not happen to anyone of us. So, we have to understand: Why was this man a fool?
First, he was foolish, because he did not give thanks to his creator (Ro 1:21). He took all the good things for granted, thought he had produced all by himself, with his own hands, and now would enjoy it for himself alone. But he forgot: God is the giver of his life. God sent rain and sunshine to let his crops grow. God gave him two healthy arms to sow and reap, the intelligent brain to be successful, and all his possessions. If God had not provided him with all these things, he would have starved from hunger. He should have given God his creator thanks and glory, but he did not (Ro 1:21). He made his own plans, and lived as if there was no God. The Bible says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov 9:10)
Second, this man was a fool, because he did not prepare himself for the future (Mt 25:1-13). He was created like you and I in the image of God designed for an eternal life. The rich fool prepared his physical life on earth well. He collected crops on earth. But he did not prepare a treasure for his eternal life. God rebuked him: You fool!
We are living in a materialistic world. We make our plans and value on material possessions in the same way this rich fool did. In the time of financial crisis many people have to realize that they believed in the security of money and this security turned out to be an illusion. If God called you today – what treasure in heaven would you have? Have you prepared your treasure in heaven?
Many medical students are very enthusiastic and idealistic. But when they start working as medical doctors in the hospitals, reality catches them and some even start to hate their patients. A successful collegue of mine is done with medicine. He is almost a professor but does not want to work in the medical field any more. Many dreams of our college days fade away, and there are so many people who realize too late that along the way they have sold their hearts. Many students work hard to learn how to make money. But without knowing God they end like the rich fool. There are so many rich fools in Europe.
We should put our hope not in money or our possession. We should put our hope in God and his eternal kingdom.
II. Do Not Worry, But Seek His Kingdom! (22-34)
Then Jesus turned to his disciples. They were different from the rich fool. They left everything to follow Jesus. They worried about what to eat everyday. Look at Verse 22.23: Jesus told them, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.” The truth is: Life is more. Jesus started to teach that there is no need to worry. And he explained why. There are two reasons.
First, God cares for you every day (V24). There a raven flew over their heads and Jesus said: “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” Because I work in a neonatal intensive care unit I often take care of little patients. Some of them are born weighing under 400 g. They really resemble a little bird. But when we have to transport one of these babies you see at least 4, sometimes more, people working together concentrating and offering any help to save this small life, the nurse, the neonatologist, two firemen. Because it is a human being even though it is so small. There is no question that one human life is more valuable than all the money of the world. You are so much more valuable than the birds. Be sure that God cares for you! - But the disciples still worried. So Jesus went on to teach them.
Second, worries do not benefit you in any way (25-26). Look at Verse 25: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” In fact worrying can shorten your life, worrying takes a lot of energy, but never improves your situation even a little bit. Jesus went on (V26): “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”
There a lily was showing her beauty and Jesus pointed to her: “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!” (27-28)
He even cares for the beauty of his children. He wants his real beauty to shine through you. Don’t waste your energy in worrying. What shall we do then?
Let’s read verse 31 together: “But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” The Kingdom of God is where God reigns. Jesus was always focused on the Kingdom of God. He prayed: Your kingdom come! - before asking for the daily bread. Jesus taught his disciples to seek His kingdom first, then all other things would be given to them as well.
When M. Dr. Samuel Yoo prayed on the bedside of his severely ill daughter Grace, seeking the Kingdom of God by serving God’s mission in Uganda, God not only healed his daughter’s disease completely. He also made Missionary Samuel a great blessing for many Ugandan medical students by raising them as devoted disciples of Jesus and also as medical doctors themselves. But God also let his dream come true, to build a mission hospital in Uganda, directly in front of the Makarere University. God blesses us, when we seek his kingdom first.
Deciding for a hard Bible study instead of spending the prime time in front of the TV or internet. That is seeking the kingdom of God. And in the end you will be more refreshed by Bible study, the more you invest your heart into it. Investing money in winning a soul for Jesus instead of taking all for a more comfortable life on your own. That is seeking the kingdom of God. By doing so you will be a good steward of your God given life. You will become rich in his eyes. You will win a treasure in heaven.
In Verse 34 Jesus concluded: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Build your treasure in heaven and your heart will be saved.
I am, what we call a “second gen”, because I was born as the son of Sh. Volker and M. Petra Keller. I grew up in a blessed surrounding like a prince. 2½ years ago I married my beautiful wife Maria and we were sent out to pioneer to Düsseldorf. Suddenly we were on our own having Sunday worship service with only one messenger and one listener. We felt lonely and forgotten. But we decided to seek His kingdom and trust in Gods promise. Today I can testify that he cared for us every single day. He has blessed us with a much deeper and personal relationship to Him. Week after week we grew in our love for him and to each other. He guided us into the dependence of him alone, and at the same time into a new freedom. I give God alone thanks for being our faithful God who is our true treasure. Seeking the kingdom of God really is the most blessed and adventurous life you can choose.
Don’t be a fool, but be rich toward God. Don’t worry. But Seek His Kingdom!
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