What are your barns for?

I think that I would be pretty accurate in saying that part of the ‘American dream’ is to work, save, invest, and multiply all you can so that you have enough retirement to kick back, relax, eat, drink, and enjoy the good life. It sounds great, it sounds right, and it’s very easy to get wrapped up in. I know I have been wrapped up in it, and I’m not even close to retirement. However, Jesus called it foolish in Luke chapter 12. (read it here) I think we have to remember that the American dream, or whichever national dream is not the kingdom dream. I will add a disclaimer and say that I don’t think Jesus was calling the act of planning, being prudent, or being a good steward foolish as there are plenty of scriptures that instruct us to act in these ways. I think Jesus was teaching us about mindsets, heart conditions, and motives.

America is very consumeristic, but not everything God gives you is for your consumption. It’s not for your consumption now, or in the future. Not everything given to you is for you to obtain bigger, and better. Not everything given to you is for future retirement, or generational building. Some things are just put in your hands to give to someone else. The things of God are not just given to you, but are meant to move through you. Everything belongs to God, as in God is the owner. You don’t own anything including your own life. You are a steward, or one who looks after the owner’s stuff. There is nothing wrong with storing things up if that’s what the owner asks you to do. However, if the owner asks you to give it all away you have to be willing to do that as well. I love to talk about dreams, and vision for your life, but it is not something that is done through autonomy. You ask the owner what the vision is, and then you do your best to steward that vision.

In the parable, the rich fool says to himself you have plenty stored away to kick back, and take it easy. The problem is that he was talking to himself. He didn’t ask the owner what he should do with all of his extra. He laid up treasures for himself, but he was not rich toward God. The American christian mindset is much the same. We try to store up what we think is ours in order to make sure we can have the easy life we want in the future. Our minds are set on obtaining, and storing. Our hearts are set on ourselves because of greed. So then our motives are completely autonomous, or self driven. We want to make more so that we can get more rather than asking the owner what we should do, or considering that if we can make more we can give more. The only reason to have overflowing barns is so that you can give the overflow.

We have a tendency to want to build our own kingdoms. It goes all the way back to the tower of babel. Many try to disguise it as for the kingdom rather than for self, but disguises are not the true identity. It would probably be wise for us to insert some firewalls against ourselves when building, and filling barns. Here is a thought to consider….when Jesus was walking the earth one of the things that His followers got wrong was that they thought He came to establish His kingdom on the earth at that time. (His kingdom is established, and ever increasing it just didn’t look like they thought it would) It caused a scattering when it didn’t turn out the way they expected. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this earth. Are we making the same mistake? Are we trying to build earthly kingdoms more than we are trying to impart, and commission? Jesus spent His time building people. Disclaimer again, I’m not saying things should never be built, established, etc.

I have had a couple major fumbles in this area on my journey. The good thing about that is I am able to learn, and I have found that the fumbles cause me to pursue God’s desires for my life even more. It is a great self check when your realize you have forgotten that you don’t own your money, vision, or anything else. Furthermore, the great thing about fumbles and our loving Father is that he lets you carry the ball again. The great coaches in your life will do the same, and you should do the same for your players. A fumble doesn’t mean a person should be moved down on the depth chart, it just means they need another set of downs.

Back to the beginning. I don’t want to build overflowing barns to kick back, and disconnect. I don’t want to drift out of life, and be retired from serving in the kingdom. However, I do want to transition in what I am doing in the future. I want to transition from being the ball carrier to being on the offensive line blocking, and making a way for others. I believe the Lord will allow me to build and fill some barns, but I also believe it is for the purpose of making sure they are emptied out into others before I go. The sooner I can make a way for others to score the better.

Have you asked the owner if you should build some barns, and why?

 

What are you building?

What are you building? The question itself implies that you should be building something, and I believe that to be true if we want to live a Kingdom first life. I personally believe there is a specific answer to what we should all be building, and that is people. I do think it is very important for us to be good stewards of all of our resources (time, talent, money, etc); however, I don’t think any of these things are as important as our relationship with Jesus, and His people. If you build your Relationship with the Lord, you can’t help but want to build other people.

Jesus used a parable to help a man who was concerned about the division of his father’s estate. He tells him to beware and guard himself against every kind of greed. I think this is something that we should always keep in mind. It is significant in the fact that it is ongoing. If you need to guard yourself, it means that you need to shield and protect yourself from attack by a strong enemy. That enemy in this case is every kind of greed. I think most people tend to think of monetary wealth and possessions when they think of greed, but Jesus specifically says every kind of greed. We can be overcome by this enemy in many areas. We can develop an intense selfish desire for power, knowledge, influence, food, materials, money, cars, and many other things. This selfish desire does not fit the character of the Holy Spirit that lives in the sons and daughters of the Kingdom.

Jesus tells this man a story about a farmer who had a fertile farm that produced so many crops that the farmer’s barns could not contain the whole harvest. I am going to describe this situation as more than more than enough. I say that because I think it is good for Kingdom people to have more than enough because we can use it to help, and build other people. (again not just money and possessions) This farmer had more than more than enough. He had what he needed plus barns (plural) that were full. I would call that good stewardship, wise planning, having an emergency fund, or whatever else you would like to insert there. However, what about all the crops that wouldn’t fit in his barns? The man decides to tear down his nice barns, and build new bigger ones to hold it all, and sit back and enjoy life. This is where Jesus calls the man a fool, and says what good will those barns be when you die tonight. He says a person is a fool to build earthly wealth, BUT not have a rich relationship with God. The but is important here. What if this farmer would have had a rich relationship with God? How may his story be different? He could have realized that his fertile land, skills, ability, etc all came from God in the first place. He could have realized without God he would not have the sun, and rain needed for his crops. He may have had a spirit of gratitude for more than enough, and not a spirit of greed for even more. He may have given his extra crops to needy families, he may have sold his extra crops for less than market value, he may have dried his crops, and given the seeds to other farmers as well as share his knowledge with them in order to build them into better farmers. The options are endless. I think that finding ways to help people is awesome, and I think finding ways to build people is even better. (You can read this parable here)

How much money do you need? How big does your house need to be? How many cars do you need? How much college do you need? How big does your house need to be? That is between you and your Father, I can’t answer that for you. I can’t tell you how big to build your house, but I can say in all of these things as a son or daughter of God you can ask how you can use it to build other people. EVERYTHING is just a resource that can be used to help ANYONE. Use your resources to build people not barns. Joshua Fields Millburn has a great quote on this, he says “Love people, use things. The opposite never works.” Jesus told the person who He called the foundation of His church to take care of His people. (read it here in John 21:15-17)

Let’s use another practical example for application. Suppose a family in your community loses their home to a fire. If you are the person that has more than more than enough home, say the large finished basement that is never used except for when family comes to visit. You can use that space to house the family, and build their spirit while they are there. If you are the person that has more than more than enough clothes, you can be the person that clothes them. If you are the person that has more than more than enough food, and an overflowing love to cook you can be the person that feeds them. If you are the person that has more than more than enough time, you can be the one that ministers to them daily to build their faith and trust that God truly does work everything for the good to those who believe in Him. This sounds like sons and daughters doing what Jesus asked us to do in Matthew 25:35-40. (read it here.) Let’s throw in one more. If you are a person with a wealth of experience in project management, and you have a wealth of relationships with all sorts of people, you may be the one that organizes the effort to rebuild this family’s home and life. These natural examples are also true in the spiritual.

We can all learn to build, but what are we going to build? I think a lot of that answer comes from who we learn from, and what system they live in. Kingdoms of the world are built through acquisition. Acquire more and more land, materials, power, money etc. The kingdom of God is built less by acquisition and more by impartation, and inspiration. If you can impart to the next generation, and inspire them to live a Kingdom first life, the Kingdom continues to advance long after you are gone. Acquiring will always fail because regardless of the resource it will eventually run out. However, the Kingdom of God is eternal. As Isaiah 9:7 says ” the increase of His government and it’s peace will never end.”

Build people, not barns. Feed and tend His sheep.

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

Live your life Kingdom First!

Levi