A violation of purpose

I preached at the Monroe County jail last night and it was a wild night. Not "wild" in the California surfer dude sense of the word, but wild. We hadn't had a night like that in a long time and I am not sure what was up, but I may write a post about that later. I was first introduced to this concept of defining evil as a violation of purposed by Ravi Zacharias and I do not know if it originated with him or with someone else, but it fit perfectly into the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21.

You and I are made in the image of God and, as such, we have a purpose: to bear his image to the world. Basically we are to act in a manner that shows the world what God is like. The word "image" here is the same word as "idol" and, quite literally, we are created to be the idols of God. Not that we are to be worshiped like an idol is, but we are to be a perfect representation of God to our world. When we do anything other than that, we commit evil and we sin. I cannot tell you how much this unlocks for me and is a perfect framework to examine the parable.

You see, the rich man here was blessed with an abundance of grain, but instead of being generous with his blessing, he chose to horde it and use it strictly for himself. God gave him the abundance of food to be generous with, to share. In that way, he would have assumed the image of a loving God who has shared his abundance with us (most beautifully shown in Philippians 2:6-11). Put another way, he would have fulfilled his purpose as an image bearer of God. We see in the story that he did the exact opposite and violated his purpose. That was evil. He missed the mark. He sinned.

This purpose-driven outlook as it relates to evil and sin holds so much for me and fits into some of the other ideas I have been exposed to through the years about the nature of man as he relates to God. I will continue to explore this more as I work other areas of the Bible through it, but I was excited to see it fitting so clearly in the story Jesus told as recorded by Luke. Here is my outline if you are at all interested in the message I preached last night:


Rich toward God (Luke 12:13-21)
If you want to be rich, you must be rich toward God.

The scene: Thousands of people were listening to Jesus (v.1)
The context: Don’t be a hypocrite like the Pharisees (religious leaders of the time) (v. 1-3), fear God (v. 4-7), acknowledge Christ (v. 8-12)
The setup (v. 13-15):
  • A man approached Christ wanting his inheritance: money and property
  • He was accusing his brother of being unjust, greedy, selfish
  • Jesus would not act as a judge in this matter – legally he could not act as one
  • Jesus warned against greed (NIV) – more specifically covetousness (ESV) which is a desire for someone else’s possessions (Exodus 20:17)
  • Jesus knew where the man’s covetousness came from – a heart of greed
The parable (v. 16-20):
  • Parables separated those who wanted to hear the deep truths of God from those that did not care (Matthew 13:10-16; Mark 4:10-12)
    • disciples often asked him what parables meant when crowds left
  • Christ gave him something much more valuable – the truth about greed/covetousness – the truth about his heart
  • His ground yielded a harvest that he was not prepared for (v. 16-17)
  • It caught him by surprise and he decided to build a bigger barn to store the harvest that he was given (v. 18)
  • He placed his trust in the grain that he had stored for comfort and for his happiness and joy (v. 19)
  • God said he was foolish (sinful) for his life would be ending and that no one would share the harvest that he stored for himself (v. 20)
  • His riches were not found in his possessions, they were found in how he handled them (v. 21) – he was a fool because he handled them poorly
If we want to be rich, we must be rich toward God
  • Do the work of God (John 6:29)
  • Be God’s image to the world – show the world what God is like (Genesis 1:27)
    • The rich man could have done that by being generous (1 Timothy 6:18-19)
    • God has been and continues to be generous to us (Philippians 2:6)
  • The rich man violated his purpose and the purpose of God’s blessing
  • He was to be generous and to show the world what God is like
  • He did the exact opposite and focused on his things rather than God
  • The man in v. 13 had the same focus as the rich man and Christ wanted to show him a better way to live – one where God was at the center and not things

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