Luke 12:21
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
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(21) So is he that layeth up treasure for himself.—See Note on Matthew 6:19. To be “rich towards God” finds its explanation in the language, probably suggested by it, which bids us to be “rich in good works” (1Timothy 6:18).

Luke 12:21. So — Such a fool, is he, in the divine account; that layeth up treasure for himself — Here on earth: and is not rich toward God — In acts of piety and charity, which would secure a fund of celestial treasures, lodged in his almighty hand, and therefore inviolably safe from such calamitous accidents as these. In other words, the covetous sensualist, who, in pursuing riches, has nothing but the gratification of his senses and appetites in view, no regard to the glory of God, who has commanded men to impart to others a portion of the good things which they enjoy, by almsgiving and other acts of beneficence; the man who thus lives only for himself, is as great a fool, and as far from real happiness, as the rich glutton in the parable, who proposes no other end to himself, from his riches, but eating, drinking, and making merry, little suspecting that he was but a few hours from death. Wherefore in this parable we have a perfect picture of the men whose affections are engrossed by the things of this present life. They forget that riches, honour, and power, are bestowed on them in trust. They do not consider that God has put these things into their hands for the good of others, and in order to their own improvement in religion and virtue, by the opportunities thus afforded them of exercising holy and benevolent dispositions. They rather look upon these advantages as mere instruments of self-indulgence and luxury, and use them accordingly. But at the very time when they are inwardly applauding themselves, in having such an abundance of the means of pleasure, and are laying schemes for futurity, as if they were never to die, and are thinking of nothing but happy days, God suddenly strips them of all their joys, overturns the treasures of the ant-hillock, which they had been idly busy in gathering together, and sends the foot of death to tread down, and spurn all abroad, the tottering piles which, like children in their play, they had foolishly, though laboriously, employed themselves in erecting.

12:13-21 Christ's kingdom is spiritual, and not of this world. Christianity does not meddle with politics; it obliges all to do justly, but wordly dominion is not founded in grace. It does not encourage expectations of worldly advantages by religion. The rewards of Christ's disciples are of another nature. Covetousness is a sin we need constantly to be warned against; for happiness and comfort do not depend on the wealth of this world. The things of the world will not satisfy the desires of a soul. Here is a parable, which shows the folly of carnal worldling while they live, and their misery when they die. The character drawn is exactly that of a prudent, worldly man, who has no grateful regard to the providence of God, nor any right thought of the uncertainty of human affairs, the worth of his soul, or the importance of eternity. How many, even among professed Christians, point out similar characters as models for imitation, and proper persons to form connexions with! We mistake if we think that thoughts are hid, and thoughts are free. When he saw a great crop upon his ground, instead of thanking God for it, or rejoicing to be able to do more good, he afflicts himself. What shall I do now? The poorest beggar in the country could not have said a more anxious word. The more men have, the more perplexity they have with it. It was folly for him to think of making no other use of his plenty, than to indulge the flesh and gratify the sensual appetites, without any thought of doing good to others. Carnal worldlings are fools; and the day is coming when God will call them by their own name, and they will call themselves so. The death of such persons is miserable in itself, and terrible to them. Thy soul shall be required. He is loth to part with it; but God shall require it, shall require an account of it, require it as a guilty soul to be punished without delay. It is the folly of most men, to mind and pursue that which is for the body and for time only, more than that for the soul and eternity.So is he - This is the portion or the doom.

Layeth up treasure for himself - Acquires riches for his own use - for "himself." This is the characteristic of the covetous man. It is all for "himself." His plans terminate there. He lives only for himself, and acts only with regard to his own interest.

Rich toward God - Has no inheritance in the kingdom of God - no riches laid up in heaven. His affections are all fixed on this world, and he has none for God.

From this instructive parable we learn:

1. That wicked people are often signally prospered - their ground brings forth plentifully. God gives them their desire, but sends leanness into their souls.

2. That riches bring with them always an increasing load of cares and anxieties.

3. That they steal away the affections from God - are sly, insinuating, and dangerous to the soul.

4. That the anxiety of a covetous man is not what "good" he may do with his wealth, but where he may hoard it, and keep it secure from doing any good.

5. That riches cannot secure their haughty owners from the grave. Death will come upon them suddenly, unexpectedly, awfully. In the very midst of the brightest anticipations - in a moment - in the twinkling of an eye it may come, and all the wealth that has been accumulated cannot alleviate one pang, or drive away one fear, or prolong life for one moment.

6. That the man who is trusting to his riches in this manner is a fool in the sight of God. Soon, also, he will be a fool in his "own" sight, and will go to hell with the consciousness that his life has been one of eminent folly.

7. That the path of true wisdom is to seek first the kingdom of God, and to be ready to die; and "then" it matters little what is our portion here, or how suddenly or soon we are called away to meet our Judge. If our affections are not fixed on our riches, we shall leave them without regret. If our treasures are laid up in heaven, death will be but "going home," and happy will be that moment when we are called to our rest.

21. So is he, &c.—Such is a picture of his folly here, and of its awful issue.

and is not rich toward God—lives to amass and enjoy riches which terminate on self, but as to the riches of God's favor, which is life (Ps 30:5), of "precious" faith (2Pe 1:1; Jas 2:5), of good works (1Ti 6:18), of wisdom which is better than rubies (Pr 8:11)—lives and dies a beggar!

See Poole on "Luke 12:18"

So is he that layeth up treasure for himself,.... This is the accommodation of the parable. Just such a fool is he, and this will be the end or him, who employs all his thoughts, and spends all his time, in amassing to himself worldly riches and wealth, in laying up treasures on earth for himself, for futurity: and makes no use of his earthly substance to be the good of others; nor shows any concern for spiritual and eternal riches; but places all his hope, trust, and confidence, in uncertain riches:

and is not rich towards God; or "in God", as the Syriac and Arabic versions read; in things pertaining to God, in spiritual things, in faith, and in good works; and is not concerned to lay up a treasure in heaven, to have an interest in durable riches and righteousness; whereas one that is rich towards God, acknowledges that he receives all his riches from God, as the Ethiopic version reads; he gives up all into the hands of God, depends upon his providence for the increase, security, and continuance of it; and uses it to his honour and glory, and for the good of his interest; and is chiefly concerned for the riches of grace and glory; and enjoys much of God, and places all his riches in him: such a man is a wise man, but the reverse of this is the fool in the parable.

So is he that layeth up treasure {h} for himself, and is not rich toward God.

(h) Caring for no man but for himself, and making sure to trust in himself.

Luke 12:21. εἰς Θεὸν πλουτῶν, rich with treasure laid up with God. Other interpretations are: rich in a way that pleases God, or rich in honorem Dei, for the advancement of God’s glory. The last sense implies that the riches are literal, the first implies that they are spiritual.

21. is not rich towards God] Rather, if he is not. We are often taught elsewhere in Scripture in what way we can be rich toward God. Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; James 2:5. There is a close parallel to this passage in Sir 11:18-19, “There is that waxeth rich by his wariness and pinching, and this is the portion of his reward. Likewise he saith, I have found rest, and now will eat continually of my goods, and yet he knoweth not what time shall come upon him, and that he must leave those things to others, and die.” This would seem to shew that our Lord was not unfamiliar with some of the Apocryphal writings.

Luke 12:21. Οὕτως, so) viz. shall be.—ἑαυτῷ, for himself) for his own soul. See Luke 12:19; Luke 12:22.—μὴ εἰς Θεὸν, not toward God) It is not said, Θεῷ, for God, as ἑαυτῷ, for himself. Nothing can be added or diminished from the perfection of God [whether a man seeks His glory or not in laying out his wealth]. He is rich toward God, who uses and enjoys his riches in the way that God would have him [1 Timothy 6:17].—πλουτῶν, who acts the part of a rich man [who is in the enjoyment of wealth]) This denotes the state: θησαυρίζων, one who layeth up treasure, denotes the aim and desire [to be rich].

Verse 21. - And is not rich toward God; better rendered, if he is not. And this slight change helps us, too, in drawing the right lesson. The being rich is never condemned by Jesus Christ; nor even the growing richer. Among the saints of God in both Testaments are many notable rich men, whose possessions seem to have helped rather than hindered their journey to the city of God. The lesson which lies on the forefront of this parable-story is the especial danger which riches ever bring of gradually deadening the heart and rendering it impervious to any feeling of love either for God or man. The directions which immediately followed upon this parable were addressed to the inner circle of disciples. The general instruction, it will be seen, belongs to all who in any age wish to be "of his Church;" but several of the particular charges cannot he pressed as general commands, being addressed to men whose work and office were unique. Luke 12:21
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