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Luke 12:32–40

7 August 2022

Exploring the Scripture

In the verses immediately preceding today’s text, Jesus told his disciples to trust in God’s providence. His followers are not to allow anxiety to rule their lives, but are to focus on God’s kingdom. This theme carries over into today’s text. The disciples are told “Do not be afraid” (v. 32) because fear reveals a lack of faith in God’s ability to provide. Investing ourselves in the work of the kingdom—the “unfailing treasure” (v. 33)—also removes fear, because it reminds us the work of God’s love is greater than any other concern.

In Luke, social justice is a sign of the in-breaking reign of God. In this Gospel, we see the ministry of Jesus and the foundation of the kingdom based on the principle of equality, care for those who are poor, and justice where all are welcome at the banquet of God. Providing for the needs of others is a spiritual practice, shifting our attention from accumulating wealth and possessions to generosity. According to Luke, we are presented with two alternative worldviews in all facets of life. Do we strive for God’s way, or the ways of the world?

Selling our possessions and giving to those in need become public declarations that we do not seek our own advancement. We seek to advance God’s reign. When what we value aligns with the concerns and mission of Christ, it can never wear out, be stolen or destroyed. If the gospel is our priority, then the way we handle our earthly treasure matters. We are to be responsible with it, not responsible to it. True security is to be found in God’s providence, not in that which will fade away.

We are to pay attention so we do not lose sight of this true, lasting treasure. Lifting the reign of God as our focus means being ready to serve and respond in joy, hope, love, and peace to the call to life as disciples. Being “dressed for action” (v. 35) and keeping our lamps lit shows we are prepared for the work of building the peaceable kingdom. We find fulfillment and blessing when we are watchful and engaged in mission. Like those waiting for their master to return, we should be ready for service at any moment.

In this parable, those who were expecting to serve the master find the roles dramatically reversed: their master has them sit down to eat and he serves them! When our focus is on the treasure of God found through faith, we seek ways to serve others as an overflow of God’s generosity in our lives. We find blessing when we are alert and prepared for mission, for we never know when we will meet Christ on the road.

For some, though, the coming reign of God will feel like a surprise, because they have not prepared themselves. Opportunity for service sometimes comes quietly and unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. So, too, does the kingdom of God. Are we ready to embrace it whenever and wherever it comes?

We are invited to treasure our faith and put it into action as a sign of trust in God and a response to God’s boundless generosity. We prepare our lives for service, confident we will find blessing as we focus on what matters most: Christ’s mission, our mission.

Central Ideas

  1. When our hearts and attention focus on God, we can respond generously to the needs of others for the sake of the kingdom.
  2. Being a disciple includes intentional preparation for active service.
  3. We need to be on guard, so distractions, weariness, or delays do not deter us from focusing on what matters most—advancing God’s reign on Earth.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does living as a disciple help you focus on what matters most?
  2. What is it you struggle with that might distract you from God’s love and Christ’s mission?
  3. What spiritual disciplines help you grow your trust in God, prepare for service, and live into the reality of God’s reign?
  4. How is this passage inviting us to grow in generosity?
  5. Have you ever missed something important because you were distracted or tired? How did it feel when you found out after? How did your behavior patterns change because of this experience?

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