Giving Back

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Luke 12
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 10

Giving Back

(Luke 12)

Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Our study this week is about what we should do “in our last years.” If the “giving back” in the title is directed towards the parents rather than the children, doesn’t that make the title very odd? Aren’t old people poor? Isn’t the cry “I’m on a fixed income” a plea for favorable financial treatment? What about all of those discounts for old people? Doesn’t that show that they are in need? The truth is that a lot of older people, especially those who followed the teachings of the Bible on money, have quite a bit saved for their old age. What should those old people do with their assets in their final years? Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Farmer
    1. Read Luke 12:16-17. How does Jesus describe the wealth of the farmer? (Jesus says the farmer was rich. The suggestion is that he was rich before what Jesus describes next.)
    2. Read Luke 12:18-19. Is this a smart business plan? Isn’t this saving for the future? Isn’t this just like what Joseph did at God’s direction? See Genesis 41:47-49.
    3. Read Luke 12:20-21. God calls this prudent farmer a “fool!” We need to discuss a few questions to better understand that label.
      1. Is there any reason to believe that this farmer is old and this teaches us something about old people with money? (There is no evidence that he is old - other than the farmer died that night. This parable might teach Christians of any age about how to deal with profits.)
      2. Look again at Luke 12:19. Is there anything wrong with this? Doesn’t this sound like the farmer planned to retire “for many years?”
      3. Compare Luke 12:21. Why does God call this farmer a “fool?” Is it because he saved for the future? (No. The actual indictment is that he saved for the future “for himself” and was “not rich toward God.”)
        1. What would it take to be rich toward God? (As we have studied, Malachi 3 sets the mark at giving back to God 10% of income.)
        2. Do you think that God is speaking of money when He charges that the farmer is not rich towards Him? (The story says nothing about whether the farmer paid tithe on his gain, but it does tell us exactly how the farmer intended to spend his time. The farmer’s plan does not include any statement about spending time on God.)
        3. Do you think God killed the farmer because he foolishly failed in his obligations towards God? Remember this is a story!
    4. I don’t think we can properly understand the story Jesus told if we fail to notice why Jesus told the story. Read Luke 12:13-15. Could these be the children of the now dead farmer? (Since Jesus is telling a story about a farmer, the answer is “no,” but these facts might fit into the story.)
      1. What do you think about Jesus’ answer in Luke 12:14? Does this seem right to you? Is it true we don’t have to answer to Jesus? (Jesus is simply saying that He is not a local judge.)
    5. Luke 12:15 holds the key to our entire discussion so far about the farmer. What is the caution that Jesus gives? (Not to covet.)
      1. Why? (“Life does not consist in the abundance of ... possessions.”)
      2. Is that a definition of covetousness - a focus on possessions (or lack of them) instead of other things in life?
        1. Consider how that definition of covetousness fits these facts. Instead of asking Jesus for spiritual guidance, the brother asks for help prying money from his brother.
    6. Re-read Luke 12:16. Jesus tells the farmer story to illustrate His response to the brother. With that in mind, tell me what you think is the point of the farmer story? (We should not be focused on our possessions rather than a relationship with God. Why? Because our possessions can disappear in an instant, while our relationship with God is eternal.)
      1. Does this story have anything to say to old people who have great possessions?
      2. Does this story have anything to say to old people who do not have great possessions?
      3. Have you noticed that people who do not have great possessions are often more focused on possessions than those who do? Is it an accident that Jesus told the brother without the inheritance to be “on guard against all covetousness?”
      4. Does this story have a lesson for young people? (It must. It was a younger person with an inheritance dispute who started the discussion.)
    7. After considering our discussion of the farmer story and its context, what should the farmer have said in Luke 12:19 that would be better than what he did say? (He should have said, “I don’t need to earn a living for many years. I will spend that time advancing God’s kingdom, relaxing more, enjoying eating and drinking, and my life will be filled with joy.”)
  2. Inheritance
    1. The death of the farmer in the context of the brothers’ dispute over an inheritance raises the issue of how the farmer should have considered the possibility of his death. Read 1 Timothy 5:8. Should old people with assets pass them on to their children? (We are required to provide for family. However, the context of this instruction is helping those who are poor.)
      1. In considering our decision about our money when we die, is being rich towards God still a consideration? (It must be given the farmer story.)
    2. Let’s consider some texts on passing our wealth on to our children. Read Proverbs 13:22. Assume your children don’t need your wealth. Does this suggest that we should give it to them anyway because of a concern about grandchildren?
      1. Should we provide specifically for our grandchildren?
    3. Read 2 Corinthians 12:14. Do parents have an obligation to pass assets to their children? (At best this is a secondary point Paul is making.)
    4. Read Psalms 103:13. If you answered the prior question with a “yes,” is this a question of compassion rather than obligation?
    5. Read Numbers 27:9-11. Think about what is being written here. Is this a command to leave an inheritance, or a command about what happens if you leave an inheritance?
    6. Read Deuteronomy 21:17. Do you think that this still applies to Christians today? (One commentator pointed out that this is the only place in the Bible stating that a double portion should be given to the first born. There are other references to a “birthright,” which encompassed more than an inheritance of property. In Genesis 25:5-6 Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac, even though Isaac was neither his first born son nor his only son.)
    7. Read Genesis 49:3-4, and 1 Chronicles 5:1-2. What is the lesson here in how we should leave our assets to our children? (This is a consideration of merit.)
    8. Read Proverbs 13:11. What caution does this raise about an immediate transfer of wealth to our children upon our death? (It might be a mistake because they may lose it.)
    9. Read 1 Timothy 6:17. What is the best inheritance that we can pass on to our children? (To trust in God rather than money.)
    10. Friend, our lives do not consist of the things we own. They can be gone in an instant. Why not, consistent with 2 Corinthians 4:18, turn our focus to a relationship with God. That is an eternal blessing.
  1. Next week: Managing in Tough Times.