Jesus’ solemn declaration, “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known” (12:2), should terrify every hypocrite. It should also motivate those of us who profess to be Christ’s followers to purge our lives of all hypocrisy. What no one else knows about you right now will be known by everyone one day. Jesus promised His disciples (12:1), “What you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops” (12:3). How would you live your life differently if everyone could hear your every word? How would you live your life differently if Jesus was your constant companion? (He is, by the way.)
These kinds of questions have a tendency to put the fear of God in us, and for that reason, some object, claiming that no Christian should be afraid of God. Jesus, however, commanded His disciples to fear God, because God is the one who has authority to kill and cast into hell (12:4-5). This is a wake-up call to anyone who assumes that his salvation is forever guaranteed just because he currently possesses it. Notice Jesus was warning His own disciples of the danger of hell. He also solemnly warned them that those who denied Him before men He would deny before the angels (12:8-9). Thus the question, “Can a Christian forfeit his salvation?” can be answered with another question, “Can a Christian deny Christ?”
This point is underscored by Jesus’ words to His disciples about the unfaithful slave who backslid because he assumed that his master would be a long time in coming. In the end, he was “cut in pieces” and assigned “a place with the unbelievers” (12:46). Those who are acting like unbelievers when Jesus returns will be treated like unbelievers, even if they acted like believers at a previous time. This is a fearful prospect that should motivate all of us to stay ready.
Lest any disciple become overly fearful in this regard, however, Jesus assures us that we are of great value in God’s eyes; thus we certainly should not fear being cast into hell on a whim. The hairs on our heads are numbered. Remember that Peter publicly denied Christ three times, but He repented and was forgiven and restored. We need to maintain a healthy balance.
Jesus certainly didn’t have time to arbitrate a dispute between two brothers over a family inheritance. But He observed that the brother who publicly spoke ill of his brother and perhaps interrupted His sermon to do so was overly concerned about getting his fair share. Jesus seized the opportunity to warn the crowd about greed.
Greedy people think that “life consists of possessions,” and their lives revolve around acquiring more. Such people will not inherit God’s kingdom (Eph. 5:3-5). The parable of the rich man was told to illustrate that point. He was rich, but not “rich toward God.” When he prospered, it never occurred to him that God blessed Him, not so he could lay up treasures on earth, but so he could lay them up in heaven. He should have used his wealth to love his neighbor as himself and glorify God in the process. Yet he only loved himself, and was judged because of it. His life was cut short by the decree of God. Jesus certainly didn’t leave us with the impression that he went to heaven. If you are interested, I’ve written much more extensively about the story of the rich fool here.
A lesser sign that one is too focused on material things and not as in tune with God as one should be is when one worries about having enough material things, including even worrying about food and covering (12:22-31). If we know and serve God, we know He will supply our needs. Since there is no reason to worry, there is no reason to hoard; thus we can show our trust in God by dispossession, something Jesus commanded all His followers to do (12:33), but something that is rarely mentioned or practiced in most professing Christian circles.
This life is a preparation for the next life, and like a journey to court (12:58-59). Stay ready!