What good thing ought the church to be known for?
Let’s learn something that is a high priority for God, helping the needy.
Let’s discuss Luke 12:32-40 and how giving to the needy prepares for God’s kingdom.
Luke 12:32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.
39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Are We Afraid? (vs 32)
Jesus said to his disciples, “Fear not little flock,” literally meaning don’t be “struck with fear, to be seized with alarm”.  The phrase “little flock” specifically refers to the small group of disciples whom Jesus was addressing (vs 22). That flock grew very large over time, to 3,000 on Pentecost and to millions more as the Gospel spread.
 THAYER'S GREEK LEXICON, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006, 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. BibleSoft.com
Literally, do we worry too much about things? Do we live in a culture of fear? Are we Christians called to fear religion, or to faith? Morally, does Jesus encourage us to sell what we don’t need and give to the poor? By analogy, is hoarding the opposite of faith? Prophetically, why fear, when God will give us his kingdom!
Do We Give to The Needy? (vs 33)
“Sell your possessions,” Jesus told those who would become the first bishops of the church. He did not so instruct every wealthy Christian. Some wealthy people supported Jesus and his disciples. The apostles were to get rid of excess possessions. Contrary to the lifestyles of some televangelists and bishops, Jesus implied that church leaders should not be greedy for wealth.
What false prophets preach smooth things (Isaiah 30:10)? Does God condemn religious worship that neglects the poor (Isaiah 1:10-20)? Did Jesus teach us to deny ourselves and take up our cross (Matthew 16:24-26)? Is our religious activity worthless (Isaiah 1:10-20) if we are not involved in true religion (James 1:27), meaning “give to those in need?”
Where is Our Treasure? (vs 34)
Where is our heart? The answer lies in where our treasure is. Though specifically addressed to the disciples, the principle is the same for all of us. The context is not about what we put in the offering plate, though that could be included as well. The specific context is giving to the needy, revealing a heart with kingdom values.
Historically, aren’t our hearts our innermost thoughts? Morally, does a materialistic heart set on a false health and wealth gospel miss the point? Allegorically, do our personal and national budgets reveal our collective and individual generosity or mean-spiritedness? Symbolically, does our money reveal whether our minds are on temporary or eternal things? How much do we give to needy causes?
Are Our Loins Girded? (vs 35-37)
“Be dressed for service.” The context changes from the needy to readiness to let Jesus in at his return. We recall what Jesus said in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, that when we help the needy, we are serving him. A deeper meaning here is Jesus’ Second Coming along with his coming in the form of the needy.
Literally, did Jesus encourage us to be dressed and ready for his coming? Morally, did he teach the Christian value of readiness? Allegorically, are we ready to let him in, even if he comes into our lives in the form of a poor street beggar? Prophetically, did he reveal his coming and how service to the needy aids our readiness?
Are We Investing in Eternity? (vs 38-40)
“He will reward,” says Jesus. The investment that we make in God’s kingdom, in the church, in the poor, will be rewarded. The reward may not be in this life, but certainly in the next. An investment in God’s kingdom, including its work in the church and among the poor is an investment like no other, with a heavenly guarantee.
Literally, does Jesus encourage us to give to the poor? Morally, is the strong helping the weak a kingdom value? Allegorically, do we see Jesus in the needy, because he became poor for us? Are we on his side? Prophetically, do we picture God’s future kingdom now, a reign that loves and values all human life, by helping the weak?
Helping the needy foreshadows God’s future kingdom and lets everyone see a window into it now. It is an eternal kingdom value. Let’s put self-sacrifice ahead of self-centeredness. Let's be known as the people who love the poor and needy.