13 Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
14 But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?”
15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.
17 “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
19 ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’
21 “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
How is Your Soul?
This is not a common question that you hear very often. Typically we greet each other with, “How are you?” You may be dying on the inside, but the standard answer is, “I’m fine, how about you?” It’s a social and cultural practice, you are not supposed to answer truthfully. Even if you do, no one hears it.
A story is told about President Franklin D. Roosevelt that one evening he decided to have some fun while greeting people. Many of them said, “Good evening, Mr. President, and how are you?” to which he responded with a warm smile, “I’m fine, thank you, I murdered my mother-in-law.” Not one person reacted to his comment. It is possible that no one even heard it.
But today I am talking about putting aside the superficial polite talk. As your pastor, as your brother, as your friend, let me look you in the eye and ask, “How’s your soul? Is everything really okay with you on the inside?”
What would your response be?
Is it well with your soul? Your soul has to do with the real you – not with your achievements or activities, but with who you really are.
Importance of the Inner Life
We each have an outer life and an inner life. My outer life is the public, visible me. My accomplishments, my work, and my reputation lie there. My inner life is where my secret thoughts and hopes and wishes live. Because my inner life is invisible, it is easy to neglect.
We live in a world that teaches us to be more concerned with the condition of our cars, or our careers, or our portfolios than the condition of our souls.
But which is more important? The outer or the inner life?
The outer life will pass away. Your body eventually ages and wears out, but the soul lives forever. Question is, where will it lives on for eternity?
How you live today determines the destination of your soul.
Luke 12 tells of two brothers who fought over the inheritance their parents left for them.
One of the brothers, decided to get some outside help. He approached Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.”
Jesus did not agree to play arbitrator, instead He gave a warning a told a parable.
The warning was found in Luke 12:15, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
A person’s life does not consist in the abundance of their possessions. Not just money, anything that is outward, physical, material. That is not what life is really about. It reminds me of a sarcasm I read recently, “Some people are so poor that all they have is money.”
Then Jesus goes on with a parable about a wealthy farmer who harvested a bumper crop one year. He said to his soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”
In today’s context we can say that his life was doing well, his business expanding, his property investments reaping huge returns. He was on the climb in the social-economic ladder.
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’
What was wrong with the farmer? Was it wrong to expand your business? Was it wrong to upgrade your homes? Was it wrong to enjoy a better life? No, not at all. That wasn’t the issue. The real issue was that he had paid so much attention to the outer life, but totally neglected the inner life.
When Jesus says the man’s soul will be required, He uses language from the business world; it is a term that would describe a loan that had fallen due. Our souls are on loan to us. One day, God will review with us what our souls have become.
When the soul is gone, nothing else matters.
Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
A lost soul is not referring to its destination, but its condition. We are not lost because we are going to hell, we are going to hell because we are lost.
Salvation is more than a change of destination from hell to heaven. It has to do with the rebirth of the soul.
The soul was sick and sinful, damaged and dead, lost and confused. But now in Christ, the soul is alive and well, health and healthy, been found and returned home to God.
When your soul is well, all is well. When your soul is not well, all it not well.
Unless your soul is healthy, you won’t be happy. If your soul is in a healthy place, you will be okay. You will find the strength and hope you need to weather the storms.
If your soul is healthy, no external circumstance can destroy your life. If your soul is unhealthy, no external circumstance can redeem your life.
3 John 2 Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.
Until your soul is healthy and prospering, nothing else can prosper. Our health and wellness don’t move from the outside in, but from the inside out.
There are two common outcomes to the outside in approach, and both are rather depressing:
In the first outcome, you try so hard to fix the circumstances, only to discover eventually that you can’t. You can’t overcome the cancer. You can’t change your spouse. You can’t bring back to loved one you lost. You can’t get the job you wanted. So you give up. You see life as meaningless and hopeless.
The second outcome might even be worse, because you actually achieve your goals. How can that be worse? Because you get what you always wanted, only to discover that it doesn’t make you feel any better. Your bank account is full, but you are still empty. And not only that, now the only hope that you could achieve satisfaction is gone, because if anyone on earth should be happy, it’s you – and you’re not. So what reason is there to go on living?
There is a better way.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
The abundant life is not found in perfect circumstances, but found in a fulfilled and healthy soul.
Life does not consist in the abundance of outward possessions, but in the flourishing and prospering of inner soul.
When God designed life, He had far more in mind for us than simply surviving. He wants us to live an abundant life. Not because circumstances are always perfect, but because our souls have found their homes in God. Fulfilment comes from having a healthy soul.
Life does not consist in the prospering of outer possessions, but in the flourishing of inner soul.
Gaining the outside world doesn’t help if your inside world collapses.
On the other hand, your soul can be all right when everything in your world is all wrong.
Sooner or later, your world will fall apart. What will matter then is the soul you have constructed.
Horatio Spafford invested most of what he had in real estate. He lived in Chicago and lost everything in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It destroyed his home. They had no insurance. He lost most of his money. In 1873 he put his wife and their four daughters on a ship heading to England as he stayed behind to rebuild his business. A few days after the ship departed, he received a telegram from his wife: “Saved alone. What shall I do?” There had been a shipwreck. All four of their daughters perished. Horatio quickly boarded another ship to England, and as it passed over the very same place in the ocean where his daughters had drowned, he wrote these words to a song:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
How to have a healthy soul?
The Bible mentions the word soul hundreds of times. The Old Testament often uses the word heart to express a similar concept.
1 Thess 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The spirit is our consciousness of God.
The soul is our consciousness of self and others. It is made up of will, thoughts and emotions.
The body is our consciousness of the environmental world through the five senses.
The soul needs to submit to the spirit, while the body needs to submit to the soul.
The soul desires integration, harmony and wholeness. An unhealthy soul is one that experiences dis-integration. And sin always causes the disintegration of the soul.
In sin, my appetite for lust or anger or pride dominates my will. My will, which was made to rule my body, becomes enslaved to what my body wants.
How does your soul returns to wholeness?
I. Return Home to God
Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
When did mankind become alive? When – and only when – God breathed into him. At that moment Adam became a living soul.
Anytime we speak of the human soul, we are speaking of God’s breath. If God’s breath created our souls, then we are literally living on borrowed breath. Whenever we breathe, speak, or sing, we do so because God’s life has given life to our souls.
Our souls came from, depend on, and long for God. He gave us life, so His presence is essential to our ongoing health. Our souls long for God because His life-breath created us and sustains us. Your soul is healthiest when it comes back frequently and wholeheartedly to God. That is when you are most alive. That is when you are most human.
You are a soul made by God, made for God, and made to need God, which means you were not made to be self-sufficient. You need God. Your soul needs to return home to God.
Another word for it is salvation. Not a one-time event, but on-going walk with God.
II. Keep Watch Over Your Soul
There was once a town high in the Alps that was built around the banks of a beautiful stream. The stream was fed by springs up in the mountain. The water was clear like crystal. Children laughed and played beside it. Swans and geese swam on it. You could see the rocks and the sand and the fishes that swarmed at the bottom of the stream.
High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man who served as Keeper of the Springs. He had been hired so long ago that now no one could remember a time when he wasn’t there. He would travel from one spring to another in the hills, removing branches or fallen leaves or debris that might pollute the water. But his work was unseen.
One year the town council decided they had better things to do with their money. No one supervised the old man anyway. They had roads to repair and taxes to collect and services to offer, and giving money to an unseen stream-cleaner had become a luxury they could no long afford.
So the old man left his post. High in the mountains, the springs went untended; twigs and branches and worse muddied the liquid flow. Mud and silt compacted the creek bed; farm wastes turned parts of the stream into stagnant bogs.
For a time no one in the village noticed. But after a while, the water was not the same. It began to look brackish. The swans flew away to live elsewhere. The water no longer had a crisp scent that drew children to play by it. Some people in the town began to grow ill. All noticed the loss of sparkling beauty that used to flow between the banks of the streams that fed the town. The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper.
The city council reconvened, the money was found, the old man was rehired. After yet another time, the springs were cleaned, the stream was pure, children played again on its banks, illness was replaced by health, the swans came home, and the village came back to life.
The life of a village depended on the health of the stream.
The stream is your soul. And you are the keeper.
The stream is your soul. For it to flow freely, the keeper of the stream must clear it of anything that becomes more important than God.
1. Get rid of sins
2. Unclutter your life
3. Feed your soul
Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Take care of the depth of your soul; God will take care of the width and height of your life.
How is your soul? It's time to return to the lover of your soul, Jesus Christ.
12 After this He went down to Capernaum with His mother and brothers and His disciples. There they stayed for a few days.
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 In the temple courts He found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.
15 So He made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.
16 To those who sold doves He said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn My Father's house into a market!"
17 His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for Your house will consume me."
“Zeal for Your house will consume me.” This is a quote from Psalm 69:9, “For zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.”
In the NLT translation, “Passion for Your house burns within me, so those who insult You are also insulting me.”
What passion is burning within you?
Some people are passionate about football, it consumes them.
Some are passionate about food, such as durian.
Some are passionate about making money.
Some are passionate about spending money, such as shopping.
Some are passionate about rescuing stray dogs off the street, through people like them I adopted my little dog, Abby.
In and of themselves, these passions are not necessary wrong. In fact, they add colors to your life. I’m more worried about people who don’t know what their passion is. They end up sitting in front of the computer or TV all day long just passing time, actually wasting life.
But the challenge of the Word of God is this, above and beyond whatever passions you have, let your greatest love and highest commitment be towards the house of God.
“Zeal for Your house has consumed me!”
The all-consuming zeal and passion of Jesus is for the house of God. It drove Him to do the unthinkable in the temple. Can you picture Jesus using a whip to drive out the merchants from the temple? Chasing the sheep and cattle out, scattering the coins, overturning the tables, shouting, “Get these out of My Father’s house!” It looks more like the picture of a mad man, rather than the loving and gentle Shepherd of our soul!
We are not just talking about a few merchants in the temple. The Passover is one of the three annual festivals that all Jews are required to go to Jerusalem to celebrate. Bible scholars estimated that there were easily a million people during that time. The temple was the center of festivities. At least 200,000 sheep must have been slaughtered and sacrificed. So we are talking about a huge throng of people and sheep. What courage and power!
And He did it twice. First time at the beginning of His ministry, as recorded in John 2 that we read this morning. The second time at the end of His ministry, as recorded in the Synoptic Gospel.
“Zeal for Your house has consumed me!”
What have we done for the house of God?
Today, there is no more temple. But individually as a Christian and corporately as a Church, we are the temple, we are the house of God.
Matthew 16:18 “I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
There is no greater cause in life than to build the church together with our Lord Jesus Christ.
You can love your football, you can play your computer game, you can pursue your career and so forth. Just make sure, the number one thing in your life, has to be about the church of Jesus Christ.
Let me give you three reasons, why building the church is the greatest cause. Actually they are found right in the first page of our weekly bulletin: “Welcome to God’s house of healing & hope!”
Reason #1: The Church is the House of God
We are not talking about the church as a building, but the church as a family, as the household of God.
Ephesians 2:19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.
God is our heavenly Father, He loves His children, He protects His family, He takes care of His church.
When you become a Christian, you belong to the church, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, you are members of the household of God.
What a privilege! What a blessing! And what an awesome responsibility that we take great care of the church, working together with Jesus, let’s build up the church as the house of God.
Reason #2: The Church is the House of Healing
Despite all our human efforts and the advancement of medical science, sickness and disease still play havoc in the lives of people today. Instead of decreasing in numbers and kinds, there are more sicknesses today, many of which are incurable or contagious. Lives and families are devastated by illnesses that cost hundreds and thousands of dollars.
But the healing power of God is not limited to physical illnesses, it includes emotional and inner healing. There is not a single hurt that He can’t heal, there is not a single wound that He can’t restore.
When Jesus was on earth, there were three main features in His ministry.
Matt 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Matt 9:35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
1. Teaching in their synagogues
2. Preaching the good news of the kingdom
3. Healing every disease and sickness
As Christ’s earthly ministry was drawing to a close, He told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem to be crucified – to give His life as a ransom for many. He told them that after His death He would rise again. He instructed them to continue the ministry that He had begun without interruption. Just before He ascended to heaven, He commissioned His disciples to go into all the world to preach the good news with signs following.
Mark 16:15-18 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
This commission was not given to the early disciples only, but to all who believe. Thank God that after Christ ascended to heaven, the early church faithfully carried on His ministry as He had commissioned them to do. Today, the commission remains for the church, we are the house of healing to a broken world.
Reason #3: The Church is the House of Hope
The world is lost and broken. There is no institution on earth that can fix it. Schools can provide useful knowledge. Businesses can provide needed jobs. Government can provide assistance. But can any of it truly transform the human heart?
There is only one power on earth that can. It is the power of the love of Jesus Christ. The good news of that transforming love has been given to the church. That means the answer to the world’s salvation lies in the hand of the church. The church is the hope of the world.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.
The church must arise as the house of hope, preaching the gospel of Christ with clarity and conviction, with authority and anointing. The salvation of the world depends on us.
Look at the world today. Never before has the world been in a greater mess. But my heart is full of hope of optimism, because Jesus is still building His church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I can’t help but commit myself with even greater passion to working for Jesus and working with Jesus to build His church. There is no greater cause, no higher call, the church is the hope of the world!
The Lord is calling every one of us here to make a commitment. Let’s commit to building God’s house of healing and hope, here at home and in all the world!
Now perhaps you say, “I want to commit, but I don’t what to do. How do we build the church to become the house of God, the house of healing, and the house of hope?”
God has given His direction. Three areas for this year:
I. Deepen Our Discipleship
Pay attention, dig deeper in our spiritual walk with Christ. Practise the three essential spiritual disciplines:
1. Daily Devotion: read the Bible daily, read it through in one year; pray daily, at least ½ an hour.
2. Weekly Worship: Come to church! Don’t miss Sunday Services, Prayer meeting, Bible Study, Connect group.
3. Generous Giving: Go beyond the basic tithes, which is giving 10% of your income to the Lord. Give cheerfully and generously to missions, facility, Sunshine.
II. Expand Our Evangelism and Widen our Witnessing
1. Pray for the Unsaved
2. Share the love of Jesus with them
3. Invite them to church
4. Follow up on them
III. Spread Our Social Services
Everyone can participate, everyone is needed, together let’s commit to building God’s house of healing and hope in all the world!
Will it be easy? No. The devil will tell you it is impossible. You will feel the pain of sacrifices. But I assure you, the reward is far greater than the sacrifice.
Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.