Most people would look at this title and wonder what the heck is going on. It is a common saying that “The Buck Stops Here” which was popularised by President Harry Truman who meant it to mean that ultimately he took responsibility for most things. Some have “bent” its meaning over the years and wish for the buck to stop with them, that is to accumulate wealth.
But Jesus taught in this section a different perspective on this attitude, both in terms of responsibility and money.
The Responsibility Buck
A man came to Jesus saying, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” (Verse 13) The man recognised Jesus had authority. But Jesus responded to him saying, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” (Verse 14)
This man had a problem. He wanted to get his brother to divide an inheritance with him and he was looking for an advocate to try and force his brother to do so. But Jesus wanted no part of this business. As he showed the man, he was not about to judge this situation as he did not have the authority. Just because the man wanted him to did not give him the power or authority to judge this matter.
The responsibility for sorting out this issue did not lay with Jesus. It was a matter of money and Jesus was not interested in money. Jesus focus was on matters of a spiritual nature, and that was the second part of this lesson.
The Monetary Buck
Jesus went on to say, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Verse 15) Life is not about how much “stuff” you have accumulated. Accumulation of wealth is a thing of this world, not of God. We are no better or worse in God’s eyes whether we have nothing or everything.
But the problem with money as he was showing this man, is that he was being driven by evil desire. He was being driven by covetousness to want something that he may have had no right to, and that is covetousness. This is so insidious that this sin was the tenth of the Ten Commandments.
When we desire something with evil intentions that belongs to someone else, it can eat away at us like gangrene. When our hearts and minds are focussed on the things of this world we are not focussed on the things of God. And covetousness is akin to idolatry for our focus is not on God but on the passions of the flesh.
What is life about?
Jesus said that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. So then what does his life consist of?
In verses 16-20 Jesus gives an example of a rich man who had land that brought forth plentifully. The man decided to build larger storehouses and so keep the produce so he could “Eat, drink and be merry” for many years. But God said that very night his time was up…that is, he would die that night. God called him a fool because all the man’s preparations would go to someone else to enjoy.
Instead he could have used his goods and his wealth to help and support those in need. His actions seemed to indicate a greed for the things of this world and a desire to hold onto his wealth rather than employ it for good.
Finally Jesus shows us that the most important aspect of this is that there is no value in laying up treasure in this world. Our life does not consist of worldly wealth and a stockpile of goods. Our life, that is our eternal life, will be decided not on the basis of wealth in this world but on the basis of wealth towards God. And richness towards God has nothing to do with money. It is about the way we live our life, in a manner that is obedient and pleasing to God.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/)