Most of our discouragements and unhappiness come from misplaced affections. A misplaced affection is when we give high value to something beyond what it truly can give us. In our study this week in Luke 12:13-21 we find a parable called the Rich Fool where Jesus addresses a man's misplaced affection.
The man in in Luke 12:13 approached Jesus and tells him, "Teacher tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." That is the context of the parable that follows. But immediately what should come to our attention is the attitude of the man who approached Jesus. First he commands Jesus, which is strange in and of itself. Secondly, his command comes from a frustration of bitterness that was towards his brother, who he believes cheated him out of some of the father's inheritance.
This man obviously believed that if his brother would share some of the wealth left behind by the father, his life would be better. But Jesus is quick to point out that his affections here are misplaced. In Luke 12:15, Jesus tells the man, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." In short Jesus is telling the man, that money will not solve his problems.
Within the parable The Rich Fool, Jesus illustrates the point with a wealthy man who after storing up his possessions, said to himself, "I will say to my soul, 'Soul you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry." First the wealthy man believed that his wealth was the source of his happiness. Secondly, he believed that his wealth was an opportunity to live for himself and his own comfort and pleasures.
But Jesus finishes up the parable by telling us how God responds to the man in Luke 12:20-21:, "Fool! This night your soul is required of you and the things you have prepared whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for self and is not rich toward God." What a tragic commentary of a man who believed that money was the source of his happiness, only to discover that before he could enjoy it, he would die and then face God in judgement.
The parallel within our own culture is haunting. So many have an idea of retirement and what would be the good life. That good life is often is centered on money. Jesus isn't telling us to that money is evil here, but he is saying that when we see it as the conduit for our happiness it becomes evil. The Apostle Paul puts it this way, "The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil." (I Tim 6:10)
Jesus gives us a way out of our misplaced affections, to be "rich towards God." How are we to do that? We do that by giving God priority with our time, in our relationships and our attitude towards money, but remembering it is His to begin with and we are its stewards to give towards God, and not just see it as a conduit for our own pleasures.
Jesus also tells us this way in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added on to you." The keys to happiness from God's point of view is God Himself. When we put Him first and remember that our well-being and peace and happiness begins with Him, than everything else will fall in line with the right perspective, health, relationships, retirement, and yes money!