I had a seminary professor who would continually say to us, his students, “Whenever you see a therefore in the Bible, you need to know what it’s there for.” He was making the point that the therefore in the text was connecting what was said before to what was about to be said.
When you understand this truth, it helps you know one of the chief causes of worry.
In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus told a story about a rich fool. He was extraordinarily wealthy. His riches increased to such an extent that he had to build more and bigger barns to contain his earthly grain and goods. He then said to his soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, and be merry.”
This successful businessman had reached the pinnacle of earthly success. He thought that he had more than enough to enjoy the rest of his life without concern.
But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you.” God then suggested that all his earthly stuff, which he had spent so much time and energy accumulating, would be left behind for others to spend. He had completely forgotten about his eternal soul in his accumulation of stuff here.
Jesus then turned to his disciples and said, “Therefore…” There’s that word therefore. My seminary prof would adjure all readers of the Bible to know what it’s there for. It’s connecting the foolishness of fervently chasing after this world’s goods to the reality of…
Worry. Anxiety. Fear. In your life.
In fact, in the next verses, Luke 12:22-34, Jesus taught his disciples not to be anxious. He instructed them to consider two things.
First, he said to look at the ravens. For Jews, they were unclean birds. To touch them meant going through an extensive purification ceremony.
For us, they are similarly unattractive as well---both in appearance and how they act. They are inky black with no colorful feathers. They squawk with a relentless screech. They often feed upon roadkill, feasting upon dead bird or animal carcasses.
Yet God hears the cries of the ravens and meets their needs (Psalm 147:9). They too are a part of his created order.
Jesus then made the argument from the lesser to the greater. If God cares for the intricate needs of an unclean, unattractive, and screeching raven, how much more will he care for the needs of the crown of his creation---you and me?
Next, Jesus entreated his followers to examine the lilies of the field. King Solomon was the wealthiest man in the world. He dressed in sartorial splendor. Yet the lilies in the field neither worked hard nor long hours to be clothed as they were. Their colorful outfits outdid anything Solomon ever possessed or wore!
And if God so clothed the lilies in the fields---flowers that are alive one day, then dead the next and thrown into an oven to be burned---how much more, Jesus asked, will the Father care for humans---the crown of his creation!
Jesus invoked all humans not to worry about what they eat or drink (verse 29). To “fear not, little flock”---usually a beautiful term of endearment (verse 32). He even said to do so could imply having “little faith” (verse 28).
Do you see what the therefore in verse 22 connects? It links your incessant drive to have more and more stuff in this world with your worry.
My wife Marilynn and I were driving on a busy road the other day. We noticed that a building that once housed a popular restaurant was being torn down. Guess what was replacing it? Storage units. A facility where people could store stuff that they would probably never see or use again.
Storage units are contemporary barns.
Perhaps people are worried that a thief might steal their possessions. Or a moth might eat them. Or rust could erode them. But their stuff is safe in the storage bin.
But when they die? Then the kids get to…sell it? Use the money to buy more stuff they want? And might end up putting it into a storage unit one day?
Perhaps that is why Jesus ended this teaching with the adjuration to store up treasures in heaven. Though you can’t take your stuff with you, you can send it ahead.
What does this mean?
Jesus said that when you use God’s resources to advance God’s kingdom (verse 31) and give to the needy (verse 32), you are making a moneybag that has no holes in it. It never grows old and wears out. And when you arrive in heaven, there is an eternal reward that you will receive that no thief, moth, or rust can ever take away from you.
What is one of the major causes of worry? According to Jesus, it’s the stuff of this world. The energy and worry we spend accumulating and protecting things that have no eternal value. When you engage in such pursuits, you run the risk of hearing God call you a fool.
Jesus taught us two ways to fight worry. When you listen to him, you’ll never have to worry about being called a fool by the Father.
First, consider creation. Look at God’s world and how he cares for it. If he oversees every detail with such infinite concern, will he not care for you much more---the crown of his creation?
Anxiety then abates. Fear flees. And faith flourishes.
Next, keep your eyes focused on heaven. As much as possible, give your earthly stuff away to kingdom causes. Don’t hold it so tightly. Heaven is approaching. Every day takes you a bit closer to it. Your faith is in the Lord who made both heaven and earth. Your excitement about your eternal reward will increase each day.
And the more you think about eternity, the less worry, anxiety, and fear will preoccupy your heart.
That’s what the therefore is there for in Luke 12:22.