Luke 12

Luke 12  •  23 min. read  •  grade level: 6
In ver. 13, one comes to the Lord, complaining of the injustice of his brother; "Speak to my brother," says he, "that he divide the inheritance with me." And the Lord replied, "Who made me a judge or a divider over you?" He was not come to set things right in this world then; though He will do this when He comes again. Had He been accepted as Messiah, He would have done so then; but the counsels of God were otherwise. It was quite right that the man should have his inheritance; but as Messiah He was rejected, and therefore could not then set "justice and judgment in the earth." He was then come about men's souls; therefore He says to them, "Take heed and beware of covetousness." For while the one sought to defraud, the other sought to obtain; and it was the same spirit in both. They were both loving the possession of these things, and that was the whole secret; therefore the Lord told them, that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."
He could not be occupied with dividing men's inheritance, for His whole business was with their souls. The world was going to be set aside, therefore what had the Lord to do with men's inheritances? His work was to go on with God, doing His will; and His entire business as to men was with their souls; and this ought to be our business too, for we are associated with God on new grounds. But if we are seeking the world or riches, the effect will be practically to separate us from God. I always tremble now when I hear of a Christian getting on in the world; for "how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God?" And who ever escapes the snare of getting on in the world? Generally there is a getting down in spirituality, when there is a getting up in the world. It may all be taken up in service to the Lord, but that is quite another thing; then it would be a bright testimony. A person once said to me, What harm is there in riches? My reply was, Suppose they keep you out of heaven; what then? O! said he, I never thought of that! If riches do get possession of the heart, they surely must keep Christ out, and a Christless heart never got into heaven yet.
The real mischief is in the riches of this world getting into the heart. Mark that most solemn word in 1 Tim. 6:9, 10, 119But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 11But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:9‑11), " But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." It is they that have a desire for riches, fall into "many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." It is not the question as to whether riches are right or wrong in themselves; but as to riches being the object of the heart. If so, they keep Christ out. A man will then say, But suppose I do not set my heart upon them; but the Lord who knows our hearts better than we do ourselves, does not deal in this way; for He says, " Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also;" and not as it is often quoted, " Where the heart is, there the treasure will be." It is quite true that if the Lord give riches, He can give grace to use them; but even then they are a snare. The language of the " certain rich man' to his soul in this chapter is, " Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry;" but God says, " Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?" So is he that "layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich towards God." Here comes in the question, " What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
"Therefore take heed, and beware of covetousness, which is idolatry." For, be it ever remembered, that while riches are a snare to the rich man, to be jealous of a rich man, because of his riches, is as bad or worse in the poor man; for it just shows that he would also have them if he could. It is not a question about riches. The Lord wants to get souls into heaven, and riches will not take them there; that can only be by being rich towards God. The whole question is about Christ; for if Christ has His place in our hearts, the things of this world cease to be temptations to us, The man that is rich toward God, has, no desire for other riches. But the man that layeth up treasure for himself, is not rich towards God; because self is at the bottom. All this has to do with the world. But now in Ver. 22, He says unto His disciples, "Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on." "The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment." When speaking to the world He takes the lowest ground; but when He turns to His disciples He speaks differently. They may trust in God, for He presses upon them that as His disciples they were of great value in the sight of God. Poor worthless things in themselves, no doubt, still they were of great value to God. Do not you be uneasy, for God has a particular interest in you, and the hairs of your head are all numbered. If God feedeth the fowls, "how much more are ye better than they?" They were all. God's subjects by creation, for lie had not given up His title to the world. In the peculiar teaching of the Book of Jonah, when God had given up Israel as an earthly testimony, we learn that God's character of doing good to all and caring for all was not at all touched. "Should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left, and also much cattle?" "But does God take care of oxen?" In troth He does; for they are the work of His creative power. But to the disciples He says, You are of such value to God that He would have you reckon yourselves to be of value to Him even in the midst of this hostile world. Do not you be taking thought for the morrow; leave the morrow with God. Do not you be taking thought at all; for if by taking thought ye cannot do that which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?, He is urging upon them unlimited confidence in God, who is to them as a tender Father. Therefore He says to them, "Seek not ye what ye shall eat; nor what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after, but your Father knoweth that YE have need of these things." "Fear not; little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom:" Therefore, do not be uneasy in passing through the desert, for the kingdom is at the end. And if God is going to give you the kingdom, though as sheep you may be killed here, still He will give you the kingdom.
Then after showing them what their relationship involved as His disciples, He speaks to them of His coming again. Ver. 35. They were to be "like unto Men that wait for their Lord." For though rejected for a season on the earth, He will return; and therefore He here tells us of the blessedness of those who will be found waiting for Him.
That which should characterize the saints is, not merely holding the doctrine of the Lord's coming, as that which they believe, but their souls should be in the daily attitude of waiting, expecting; and desiring. His coming! But why? That they may see Himself and be with. Him, and like Him forever! Not because the world which has been so hostile to them is going to be judged, though God will smite the wicked.
It is true, there will be mercy to those who are spared. But we have obtained mercy now, and are, therefore waiting for Himself, for what He is in Himself to us, and not because of judgment. That would not be joy to me, though it will be to some on the earth; for "In every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps," &c. &c. (Isa. 30:3232And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it. (Isaiah 30:32).) This is not our hope, but simply waiting for Himself. The whole walk and character of a saint depends on this, on his waiting for the Lord. Every one should be able to read us by this, as having nothing to do in this world, but to get through it, and not as having any portion in it: Turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven." This is thought a strange thing now, but the Thessalonians were converted to this hope-for they belonged to a world which had rejected God's Son, therefore they had to turn from these idols to serve the true and living God, and to wait for His Son from heaven.
What I desire to press upon you all and myself too, is, the individual waiting for the Lord; not as a doctrine merely, but as a daily waiting for Himself. Whatever the Lord's will may be, I should like Him to find me doing it when He comes. But that is not the question, but am I waiting for Himself day by day? In the second chapter of Thessalonians, the hope is connected with ministry, What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing, are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?" Then Paul would get the reward of his service to the saints. Then in the third chapter, the hope is connected with our walk, as a motive for holiness, " unblameable in holiness, before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints."
Then in the fourth chapter, the doctrine of the hope is unfolded; the manner of it comes out-" The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we Which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
This we see what a present expectation the coming of the Lord was; therefore Paul says, ".WE which are alive and remain." But why does he say, "WE?" Because he expected it then. That was Paul's character then, that of waiting for the Lord. And does he lose that character, because he, died before He came? No, not at all.
Though Paul had a revelation that he should put off the tabernacle of his body, yet did he daily wait for the Lord's coming then.; and that will be Paul's character when the Lord does come; he will lose nothing by his death. " Be ye like unto men that wait for their Lord." The character of their waiting was to be like servants at the hall door, that when the master knocked, they were ready to open to Him immediately. It is a figure, of course, here; but it is the present power of the expectation that is alluded to. And the ruin of the Church has come in by practically saying, " my Lord delayeth his coming." " Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching."
" Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning." "Your loins girt about with truth," for service. You must not let your garments flow loose; that is, you must not let your thoughts And affections flow abroad, but be ready, with your garments well girt up, and your lights burning. This is not rest, for it is an exceedingly tiring thing to have to sit up and watch through a long, dark night. But in the spirit of service, the heart, affections, thoughts, feelings, and desires must all be girt up. And this requires this pains-taking not to let the flesh go its own way; for it is a great comfort Sometimes to do this, if but for a moment, but if we do we shall surely fall asleep like the virgins. For as the virgins went to sleep with their oil in their lamps, so we may go to sleep those who are spared. But we have obtained mercy now, and are, therefore waiting for Himself, for what He is in Himself to us, and not because of judgment. That would not be joy to me, though it will be to some on the earth; for "In every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps," &c. &c. (Isa. 30:3232And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it. (Isaiah 30:32).) This is not our hope, but simply waiting for Himself. The whole walk and character of a saint depends on this, on his waiting for the Lord. Every one should be able to read us by this, as having nothing to do in this world, but to get through it, and not as having any portion in it: Turned from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven." This is thought a strange thing now, but the Thessalonians were converted to this hope-for they belonged to a world which had rejected God's Son, therefore they had to turn from these idols to serve the true and living God, and to wait for His Son from heaven.
What I desire to press upon you all and myself too, is, the individual waiting for the Lord; not as a doctrine merely, but as a daily waiting for Himself. Whatever the Lord's will may be, I should like Him to find me doing it when He comes. But that is not the question, but am I waiting for Himself day by day? In the second chapter of Thessalonians, the hope is connected with ministry, What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing, are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?" Then Paul would get the reward of his service to the saints. Then in the third chapter, the hope is connected with our walk, as a motive for holiness, " unblameable in holiness, before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, with all his saints."
Then in the fourth chapter, the doctrine of the hope is unfolded; the manner of it comes out-" The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we Which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
This we see what a present expectation the coming of the Lord was; therefore Paul says, "WE which are alive and remain." But why does he say, "WE?" Because he expected it then. That was Paul's character then, that of waiting for the Lord. And does he lose that character, because he, died before He came? No, not at all.
Though Paul had a revelation that he should put off the tabernacle of his body, yet did he daily wait for the Lord's coming then.; and that will be Paul's character when the Lord does come; he will lose nothing by his death. " Be ye like unto men that wait for their Lord." The character of their waiting was to be like servants at the hall door, that when the master knocked, they were ready to open to Him immediately. It is a figure, of course, here; but it is the present power of the expectation that is alluded to. And the ruin of the Church has come in by practically saying, " my Lord delayeth his coming." " Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching."
" Let your' loins be girded about, and your lights burning." "Your loins girt about with truth," for service. You must not let your garments flow loose; that is, you must not let your thoughts And affections flow abroad, but be ready, with your garments well girt up, and your lights burning. This is not rest, for it is an exceedingly tiring thing to have to sit up and watch through a long, dark night. But in the spirit of service, the heart, affections, thoughts, feelings, and desires must all be girt up. And this requires this pains-taking not to let the flesh go its own way; for it is a great comfort Sometimes to do this, if but for a moment, but if we do we shall surely fall asleep like the virgins. For as the virgins went to sleep with their oil in their lamps, so we may go to sleep with the Holy Ghost in our hearts. But blessed are those servants who are found watching. The Lord says, this is the time for you to be girded, to take your turn in love to serve and watch; but when I come again, and have things my own way, then I will take my turn in love, ungird you, and gird myself; and come forth and serve you. You must be well girt up and watchful in the midst of evil; but when the evil is done with, then you may take your rest. When in the Father's house, you may lie down and be at ease; and then your robes may flow down without any fear of their being soiled. In that blessed place of holiness and purity, you may let your affections, thoughts, and desires flow out without the fear of their being defiled.
The Lord does not speak to us, as He does to the remnant on the earth. He does not say to them that He will come as a thief in the night, but He tells them the tribulation will be so terrible, that He notes how many days it shall last, and says, "For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened, or no flesh could be saved." But to us it would be nothing that our flesh should be saved on the earth-we would rather get out of the flesh. To them it would be everything to " fear not them which kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do." They would be amongst those who would not have Christ, and therefore will have antichrist; and so terrible will be the sorrow, that the Lord comes to cut short those days. They were too late for the other thing, but now, by reason of the sorrow, a short work will the Lord make of it on the earth. The Psalms express a desire for judgment, because those who express it then get their deliverance; but no Christian can claim this. Who could ask, " that thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and that the tongue of thy dogs may be red through the same?" Judgment will not be our deliverance, but going up to heaven before the judgment begins.
He will come in judgment as it is said. " Sit on my right hand until r make thine enemies thy footstool." But that is not for us-we are not His enemies; for He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. And we are perfect now, but we wait by the Holy Ghost to have that which is ours by virtue of our union with Him; and when He comes forth to judgment we shall come with Him. The Lord comes with His saints, when He come to execute judgment on the earth; and He tomes for His saints, when He comes for the Church.
I do not desire judgment, but I do desire that which is worthy of being desired, that of being with the Lord, as the Lord and like the Lord forever. It is the end of the Whole thing as regards ourselves. Therefore, as the Apostle says, The times and seasons are nothing to you, for you belong to the day that will come, when the wicked shall be as ashes under the feet of the saints.
Ver. 40, 41. The Lord then goes on to speak of the conduct of the saints while waiting for their Lord; and " Peter said, Lord speakest thou this parable unto us, or even unto all P And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord. shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing." Now observe that this answer of our blessed Lord's was most remarkable, and in this way, that those Who had the name of waiting for the Lord would become the world. In our country, in England, worldly people are all called Christians, and thus they are responsible for the name they bear, and not only for the power. So they that take the name of ministers are responsible for the position they take. For people will be judged not according to the power they have, but according to the PLACE they have taken. They cannot say, I have taken the place but have not the power, so you ought not to judge me. But you have taken the place, and therefore are responsible for the power, or you should not have taken the place. If a servant comes into your house and spoils all your goods, you judge him according to the place he has taken. Therefore the professing Church or Christendom is responsible for having taken the place of Christianity without the power; and how can there be power where there is not life? If servants, they are to give to the household the portion of meat in due season, because it is a service to be done in the house while the master is away. So that whatever the place, whether little or great, the servant is to be in service to Christ, while He is away; and if faithful, He will make him ruler over all that He hath at His return.
Ver. 45. " But and if that servant say in his heart, My Lord delayeth His coming," &c. Mark, he does not say He will not come, but " He delayeth His coming." And the moment the Church of God said, My Lord delayeth His coming, it got into the world; and the Lord's coming was counted a heresy. For as soon as the Church lost the practical sense of the Lord's coming, it began to decay and decline, and the hope gradually dropped out, until it was entirely lost. What awoke the virgins at first was the cry, " Behold the Bridegroom cometh." But they needed to be called out again from the place where they had gone to make themselves comfortable, although they had been called out before; and that which awakes them again is, " Behold the Bridegroom cometh," &c. It is not that the Church had been saying, He will never come again, but, " My Lord delayeth his coming," just showing that the hope of His immediate coming had lost its place in her heart. The servant does not say he will be a heathen or a Jew, nor does he leave the other servants; but instead of giving them their meat in due season, he begins to beat them. And when it came to this they began to eat and drink with the drunken; not that they got drunk, but that they readily went on with the ways, customs, and habits of the world which they had been redeemed from. Is that the wilderness? No. It is getting into the world and setting up a millennium in the continuity and perpetuity of the Church down here, which is virtually denying the Lord's coming. How can I make preparation for continuing down here if I am expecting him daily? Men tell me that the Lord is providing for the continuance of the Church down here on the earth; but the Lord tells me in His word to expect Him daily to take me up to heaven.
It is a most solemn thing, that this thought of settling in the earth because the Lord delayeth His coming, is fast closing in upon the blinded hearts of the professing Church, and thus fitting them for the judgment that is fast approaching. The voice then ought now to be lifted up like a trumpet to meet this state of things. "Behold the bridegroom cometh." That will be the test again by which souls may yet be gathered out to wait for the Lord, and not settle down into the expectation of the perpetuity and continuance of the Church down here.
Now mark the result of all this. (ver. 46.) " The lord of that servant cometh in an hour when he looketh not for him, and will cut him in sunder, and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." He is treated according to the position He has taken.
Ver. 47. Christendom is in the worst case after all; it will be better even for the poor heathen than for it. "As many as have sinned without law shall perish without law." That which now boasts itself as the Church, will then have peculiar judgment; for "it shall be beaten with many stripes."
Ver. 48. While the heathen who ought to have acted according to the light of conscience " will be beaten with few stripes." God will not go on with evil, though He may bear long with it. And where Satan is working, believers cannot rightly deal with it, but by treating it as what it is. I have no power over it, for it corrupts the principles of the light within me, and brings darkness into my soul.
First, then, there is the waiting for the Lord Himself; and, secondly, the answer to the question, " Speakest thou this unto us, or to all? "viz., it is to all that call themselves, and take the place of, servants.
The Lord make us faithful as those who are waiting for Him! It will be no joy to my soul for Him to find me heaping up riches when He comes; for there should be the testimony to the world that He is coming. Individual faithfulness is first, and then love to Him and to souls will flow out naturally.