Luke 12

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Luke 12:1 Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy

"Leaven, or yeast, is a symbol of corruption because of its tendency to spoil. Christ warned the disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, defining it as their false teachings and their hypocrisy. (See Matt. 16:6-12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1.) Following the actual Passover, the Israelites were commanded to observe the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, not only abstaining from any leaven for seven days, but also purging it out of their houses. (See Ex. 12:18-19.) Knowing that leaven is a type or symbol of corruption helps us see the beauty of this requirement. After deliverance from death and bondage by the blood of the Lamb, we are to purge all wickedness, pride, and hypocrisy from our lives." (Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 64.)

Luke 12:2 there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known

Milton R. Hunter

"If it is true that our bad unspoken thoughts are recorded against us, will it not be just as true that all our good thoughts unspoken, the kindness, tenderness, sympathy, pity, love, beauty, and charity that enter the breast and cause the heart to throb with silent good, find remembrance in the presence of God, also? Yes, I firmly believe that all of our good impulses and thoughts will find remembrance with the Lord just as much as will the evil that we have thought, said, or done; and certainly Since God is our loving Father, he will remember the good with a greater degree of satisfaction and joy than he will the evil." (Conference Report, October 1946, Afternoon Meeting 41 - 42.)

Luke 12:4 Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do

Spencer W. Kimball

"We are lifted by the witness of the modern prophet, Joseph Smith, when he reassures the people of the resurrection. Elder George A. Smith quotes the last public address of Joseph Smith in June 1844, only days before his cruel assassination:

' . . I am ready to be offered a sacrifice for this people; for what can our enemies do? Only kill the body and their power is then at an end. Stand firm my friends. Never flinch. Do not seek to save your lives, for he that is afraid to die for the truth will lose eternal life. Hold out to the end; and we shall be resurrected and become like Gods, and reign in celestial kingdoms, principalities and eternal dominions. . . .'" (Conference Report, April 1969, Afternoon Meeting 30.)

Luke 12:5-10 Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him

The one who has power to kill and to cast into hell must of necessity hold the keys of death and hell. Who must we fear? Who holds the keys of death and hell? Jesus Christ told John, 'I am he that liveth, and was dead...and have the keys of hell and of death.' (Rev. 1:18). Jesus' message was, in effect, "I have the power to kill, the power to resurrect, and the power to cast into hell. Therefore, fear me and keep my commandments."

This very issue was a problem for some of his own apostles. At this point in his ministry, the apostles had been with him for almost three years. Still, the Joseph Smith Translation tells us that some of them had not been valiant in their testimony of him, 'Now his disciples knew that he said this, because they had spoken evil against him before the people; for they were afraid to confess him before men' (JST Luke 12:10). This incident is reminiscent of Joseph Smith's early ministry. The Lord told him, 'you...have gone on in the persuasions of men. For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God' (DC 3:6-7). Such behavior is not acceptable from the Lord's servants.

Think of Peter. He denied Christ three times. Yet the scripture reads that 'whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him.' From this, we are not to assume that any denial of Christ is summarily dismissed by the Lord. Certainly, Peter's remorse after his denial indicates that he did not feel immediately forgiven (Luke 22:54-62). The message, then, is that denying Christ is a forgivable sin. But repentance is still required to obtain forgiveness. Again, the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies the issue. 'And they reasoned among themselves, saying, He knoweth our hearts, and he speaketh to our condemnation, and we shall not be forgiven. But he answered them, and said unto them, Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, and repenteth, it shall be forgiven him' (JST Luke 12:11-12).

Luke 12:10 unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven

Joseph Smith

"What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him. He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy. This is the case with many apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"When a man begins to be an enemy to this work, he hunts me, he seeks to kill me, and never ceases to thirst for my blood. He gets the spirit of the devil-the same spirit that they had who crucified the Lord of Life-the same spirit that sins against the Holy Ghost. You cannot save such persons; you cannot bring them to repentance; they make open war, like the devil, and awful is the consequence." (Teachings, p. 358.)

Luke 12:12 the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say

Bruce R. McConkie

"'The Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.' This is a power that none but the saints of God possess. They alone have the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead based on faithfulness. No man of himself could possibly know what to say, either by way of doctrine or of testimony, when hailed before earthly tribunals or when standing in the congregations of the wicked, for no man knows the hearts of men. But God, who knows all things, promises, by the power of his Spirit, to put words into the mouths of his servants. 'Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say,' is his word, 'but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.' (D&C 84:85.) Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, after the healing of the man lame from his mother's womb, and Paul before Agrippa, testifying that Jesus rose from the dead, are but illustrations of the power of speech given to the Lord's servants when the need for divine help requires it." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 318.)

Luke 12:13-15 Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me

Would Jesus intervene to divide the inheritance? How much time and energy is spent today dealing with this very issue? We have lawyers and judges whose entire careers are spent dividing inheritances, liquidating estates, and settling such family disputes. There are wills, trusts, and probate courts to deal with all these issues.

Yet the great tragedy of human nature is that some allow themselves to become contentious over family money. In such conflicts, those who should the most beloved become the greedy enemy. It is truly amazing how entitled people become when they are consumed with an inheritance which they neither produced nor truly deserve. Unfortunately, members of the church also become embroiled in such bitter disputes. Can we imagine them asking the Lord in prayer, "Father, please bless my lawyers so that I can get that portion of the estate that I deserve"? His answer would be, "Dear child, I don't care whether you get any of that money. I just wish you cared about me half as much as you care about wealth. 'Take heed and beware of covetousness'."

Luke 12:15 a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth

Hugh B. Brown

"So many men spend their lifetime accumulating this world's goods, and sometimes they are not particular how they get them; but most men, if they live to old age, get a new sense of values, but too often it is too late.

"May I illustrate my point by referring to an experience I had in 1917 as I was returning from my first trip overseas in World War I where I was serving with the Canadian Army. I arrived in New York and while there learned of the presence in the hospital of an aged man whom I had known. As I had some time before the train left for the West, I called on him in the hospital. He was a very wealthy man, had racing stables in Cuba, in the Northwest, and in California, had millions invested in various places, but at the age of eighty he was lying at death's door.

"As I stood by his bedside and thought over various parts of his life as I had known it, as I thought of his divorced wife, of his five children, all of whom were estranged, and none of whom cared enough to come to the hospital to see him, as I thought of the things he had lost which money could not buy and noted his tragic situation and the depth of his misery, I asked him what he would do if he had the privilege of living his life over again and could start it with the wisdom which had come through the years, what he considered the real values in life as he stood near the end of it. I asked him what he considered the most important things in life, and if he would tell me as a young man how I could get the greatest riches and enjoy them when I grew old.

"This old gentleman, who died a few days later, said to me, 'As I think back over life the most important and valuable asset which I might have had but which I lost in the process of accumulating millions, was the simple faith my mother had in God and in the immortality of the soul.'

"...That was the dying testimony of a man who was born in the Church but had drifted far from it. That was the brokenhearted cry of a lonely man who could have anything that money could buy, but who had lost the most important things of life in order to accumulate this world's goods. He realized as he lay upon his deathbed that he could not take any of it with him." (Continuing the Quest [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], 33-34.)

Luke 12:18 I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods

"The parable of the rich fool...has been called an American parable, and with good reason; it condemns directly the covetousness reflected in the bumper sticker seen on American luxury cars: 'He who gets the most toys wins.' Well might it also be called the retirement parable.

"...Why such harsh condemnation? Was this not a provident man who had worked hard all his life, saved his money and invested wisely, and now deserved to retire in comfort? Isn't that the American ideal? Where had he failed?

"He had failed to recognize the principle of stewardship. In his eyes, they were his barns, his fruits, his goods. He had forgotten, if he ever knew, that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, that every material thing we possess is by His sufferance and only temporarily.

"Having forgotten that, it was only natural that his use of his wealth was so self-centered. All of it was to go into his enlarged barn for his ease. There was no thought of sharing, no concern for the poor, no awareness of brotherhood." (William B. Smart, Messages for a Happier Life: Inspiring Essays from the Church News [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 157.)

Sterling W. Sill

"So far as we are informed, the rich man mentioned in the scriptures who died while his barns were bulging with goods that he couldn't use was not an evil man. Jesus didn't say that he was dishonest, immoral, or lazy. Certainly, he appears to have been very successful in his occupation. He must have been an intelligent and industrious worker to have accumulated such a great amount of wealth. The Lord didn't call him a sinner; he merely said he was a fool. Apparently, this man had misunderstood the real objectives of life and was therefore unprepared for death. With his wealth stacked around him he heard the Lord say, 'Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.' ("Luke 12:20Luke 12:20.) Certainly anyone is foolish who exhausts his energy on those things that can never bring him any benefit, and yet this is exactly what so many people do. Our testing is being given in a world of opposites where we see the contrasts of good and evil, success and failure, right and wrong side by side. The wheat and the tares are frequently allowed to grow together until harvest time. These contrasts can help us to develop our judgment and our righteousness." (Principles, Promises, and Powers [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 121.)

Luke 12:20 Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee

"Some things simply will not be permitted through celestial customs." (Robert L. Millet, An Eye Single to the Glory of God: Reflections on the Cost of Discipleship [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1991], 33.)

Dallin H. Oaks

"A modern illustration of that principle is suggested in the apocryphal story of two men standing before the casket of a wealthy friend. Asked one, 'How much property did he leave?' Replied the other, 'He left all of it.'" ("Tithing," Ensign, May 1994, 35)

Marvin O. Ashton

"Down in Arizona I saw this cartoon:

"It was of an elderly gentleman on his deathbed. I guess he had placed for his comfort his stocks and bonds and his money all around his bed. You can scarcely see him for his accumulations. The whole picture told the story that the end was near. The doctor with watch in hand held the old fellow's pulse, and the nurse from the expression on her face was ready for the ultimate. In that tense moment so vividly pictured, the old man, with his hands on his gold, tenaciously blurted out: 'Doc, I'm not going to go until I can take these with me.'

"Now, when you go, you will leave everything. Some men get their minds so much on cattle, so much on stocks and bonds, so much on sheep that they crowd everything else out. Some of our leaders in our organizations get that disease. I once heard of a fellow that got so in love with sheep that he just kept grabbing, grabbing, grabbing, and finally a bishop's court was held to settle to whom a certain herd of sheep belonged. And the court decided against him. When the trial ended, he shook his fist and said: 'Well, you've got the sheep, but I'll have those sheep in the next world.' Well, now, I don't know too much about those things, but I'll bet that if he has those sheep in the next world he'll have to put some asbestos blankets on them so they will stand the heat." (Conference Report, April 1946, Afternoon Meeting 92.)

Luke 12:21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God

John H. Vandenberg

"How can we be rich toward God? Does this refer to the laying up of treasures in heaven by living his commandments-love of God and of our fellowmen? Wouldn't living each day with these objectives in mind bring into our lives that peace spoken of by the Savior? Aren't we all too much inclined to be encumbered about by many things and forget those things that are most needful?

"Henry David Thoreau thought so, for we read in his book Walden: 'The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. ... Most of the luxuries, and many of the so called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.'

"And Joshua Liebman wrote similarly in his little book Peace of Mind: 'A man may have a home, possessions, a charming family, and yet find all these things ashy to his taste because he has been outstripped in the marathon race by some other runners to the golden tape line. It is not that he does not possess enough for his wants, but that others possess more. It is the more that haunts him, makes him depreciate himself and minimize his real achievements.'" ("Whence Cometh Our Peace?" Ensign, July 1972, 127-128)

Gordon B. Hinckley

"...greed is an insidious trap that has the power to destroy those whose eager search for success becomes the driving force of their lives. Greed is the devious, sinister, evil influence that makes people say, 'What I have is not enough. I must have more. And I will do whatever it takes to get it.'" (Stand a Little Taller, 334 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the New Testament: The Four Gospels, by Pinegar, Bassett, and Earl, p. 236-237)

Luke 12:22 Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on

The scriptures clearly teach us what we should be thinking about, 'let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord' (Alma 37:36; DC 6:36). We are told to 'let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly' (DC 121:45) and to 'treasure up in your minds continually the words of life' (DC 84:85). If our minds are thus engaged, we will have no time to worry about the mundane things of everyday life. The great message of this verse is "Don't worry!" Don't worry about your clothes! Don't worry about your food! Don't sweat the small stuff! Life is too short to worry about those things-especially when we should be busy treasuring up the things of God.

Albert E. Bowen

"Now I would not have you suppose that I am trying to say to you that your physical needs may be ignored or even neglected. The body is the physical instrumentality through which we work in this physical world. It requires physical food and material shelter to perpetuate it in being. Its perpetuation is essential to the accomplishment of the purposes of this earth life... But [we need to avoid] losing our sense of proportion and...exalting the incidentals of life over the essence of life itself." (Conference Report, April 1940, Second Day-Morning Meeting 129.)

David O. McKay

"With all my soul, I plead with members of the church, and with people everywhere, to think more about the gospel; more about the development of the spirit within; to devote more time to the real things of life, and less time to those things which will perish." (Conference Report, Apr. 1968, p. 144.)

Luke 12:31 rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you

Milton R. Hunter

"I do not believe that the Savior objects to Latter-day Saints becoming wealthy, if they use that wealth as they should. God wants his children to have the good things of the world, if we use that wealth to pay our tithing, and fast offerings, to send out missionaries, to build church houses, and to help build up the kingdom of God here upon this earth in every way; but he warned against the evil effects that wealth might have on members of his Church. Those who use their wealth for the building of the kingdom of God are following the Savior's admonition to '. . . seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.' (Matt 6:33.)" (Conference Report, October 1953, Second Day-Morning Meeting 48.)

Spencer W. Kimball

"I often pray that the Lord will bless the people with prosperity, but not too much, so that we will need to sacrifice and to find priorities. Bless all people, our Father, that they may prosper, but not more than their faith can stand.

"...I suppose every graduate dreams of the things a successful life will give him. I knew one such person who set aside his cap and gown with such a burning ambition. Success in terms of wealth, prestige, position, public acclaim was like the sun blinding him to all else. The fire must be kept burning at all costs, and one by one the real values were placed on the altar. His tithing went for dues in the clubs which would get him in the right groups. Church fellowship was pushed aside for social clubs for prestige.... Inch by inch,... faith gave way to the flames of... ambition. [He] did become successful in a worldly sense, but... like a shadow it vanished when death came to this man and left his widow and children with home, cars, luxuries, money, memories but devoid of faith and eternal values. (63-05)

"There are many ways to succeed. A few reach the pinnacle of professional or social or financial success through devious, even evil means. Others may be more virtuous, but still show a lack of sensitivity to loved ones, friends, and colleagues as they climb to the top.

"Those who combine honor, integrity, devotion, and sensitivity to family and friends are rare indeed." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 354-355.)

Luke 12:33 provide yourselves...a treasure in the heavens that faileth not

Victor L. Brown

"Contrast [the parable of the foolish rich man] with the story of a sixteen-year-old priest who answered the telephone one day to hear the voice of a popular disc jockey on a local radio station. He was asked a question and when he answered it correctly was informed he had won an expensive sports car. It seemed like a dream come true for a teenage boy. A loving bishop was concerned about what such a car might do to the boy, thinking it might draw him away from all we hold dear. He asked him about his feelings. The bishop could hardly believe his ears when the young man indicated he was not going to take the car but would accept a cash award instead. He said, 'Now my mission is paid for.' What an outstanding example of proper balance in an attitude toward worldly wealth or recognition and Christlike values." ("Finding One's Identity," Ensign, May 1983, 61)

Bishop John H. Vandenberg

"Many of the problems of society develop because of man's vain ambition to get gain and power 'above another.' Such desires follow the natural course in the heart of man. '. . . the natural man,' said King Benjamin, 'is an enemy to God. . . .' (Mosiah 3:19.) One should cultivate thoughts of love for God and fellowmen and strive to serve one another.

"'When Matthias Baldwin, who built the first American locomotive, had made good and had accumulated a fortune, he was wont to distribute liberal gifts freely among those who had been less prosperous than he. So generous, indeed, was he that when he had not the cash by him he would give personal notes instead...Mr. Baldwin personally said, 'I feel more thankful for the disposition to give largely than for the ability to give largely; for I know that immense wealth can be acquired a great deal easier than the heart to use it well. My money without a new heart would have been a curse to me.' (Osborne J. P. Widtsoe, What Jesus Taught, p. 175, 180)" (Conference Report, October 1965, Afternoon Meeting 133.)

Luke 12:36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord

"A little parable peculiar to Luke, warning the apostles to be ready for Christ's Second Coming, which will be sudden. The apostles are compared to slaves left to watch the house (the Church) while the master (Christ) goes to a wedding feast (i.e. ascends into heaven). Their loins are girded because they have housework to do (preaching the gospel and ruling the Church), and they have lighted lamps, because their task is to enlighten a dark and sinful world by their shining example. Christ's return from the marriage feast is his Second Advent, or it may mean his judgment of each individual soul at death." (Dummelow, p. 754 from Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 676.)

Luke 12:48 For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required

Gordon B. Hinckley

"We have laid upon us as a people a greater charge, a greater responsibility than any other people have ever had in the history of the world. We are responsible for the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all who have lived upon the earth, to all who now live upon the earth, and to all who will yet live upon the earth. No other people have had so great a responsibility as that. God bless the faithful Latter-day Saints who carry in their hearts the love and respect of the great doctrine of the eternity of the family, and the tremendous doctrine of vicarious work for the dead." (Stand a Little Taller, 326 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the New Testament: The Four Gospels, by Pinegar, Bassett, and Earl, p. 238)

Franklin D. Richards

"The Savior said, '. . . unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: . . .' (Luke 12:48.)

"As I travel throughout the Church I am told by the leaders that the most pressing need today is 'Greater dedication on the part of everyone in building the kingdom.' In the parables referred to, the price of possession of the hidden treasure and of the pearl of great price is one's all-complete dedication. We might ask, 'How does the Lord interpret giving our all or complete dedication, and how will he prove us even unto death as President Snow stated?'

"Giving our all or complete dedication means-putting the Church first in our lives. It means to accept every opportunity to serve. As you accept each call, recognize the tremendous opportunity even though the assignment does not appear to be too important, or you may feel your inadequacy.

"I heard of a young man who in presenting a diamond to his fiancee remarked, 'it isn't very large,' whereupon she replied, 'it's as big as we make it.' So it is with every call to serve that we accept-it's as big as we make it." (Conference Report, April 1964, Second Day-Morning Meeting 66.)

Spencer W. Kimball

"The Lord is not trifling with us when he gives us these things (speaking of the scriptures), for 'unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.' (Luke 12:48.) Access to these things means responsibility for them. We must study the scriptures according to the Lord's commandment (see 3 Ne. 23:1-5); and we must let them govern our lives and the lives of our children; and, having them, we must see the responsibility we have to turn our hearts to our beloved ancestors, many of whom endured the long night of darkness that we might be, and who perhaps even now anxiously await our efforts in their behalf." ("How Rare a Possession-The Scriptures," Ensign, July 1985, 5)

John K. Carmack

"A well-known principle establishes the doctrine that one who enjoys many privileges and possesses special knowledge has correlative responsibilities. 'For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation' (D&C 82:3). James said it this way: 'Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin' (James 4:17). Jesus taught: 'But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.' (Luke 12:48.)

"When deciding whether one needs to be contacted, interviewed, or brought before a formal disciplinary council to answer for a transgression, the Church officer will consider not only whether an offense has been committed against the commandments of the Lord and the law of the Church but also what the background is of the person involved. Is the person a new member without many opportunities to know and be grounded in doctrine and procedure? Has the person been ordained to the higher priesthood and made special commitments in connection with that ordination? Has she or he been to the temple and made special covenants? ...All of these questions are relevant and pertinent to any inquiry into the propriety of words and actions called into question." (Tolerance: Principles, Practices, Obstacles, Limits [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1993], 135 - 136.)

Luke 12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on the earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division

George Q. Cannon

"This sounds very strange, coming, as it does, from Him who is called the Prince of Peace, and whose mission was to save mankind. No one but a Latter-day Saint can understand the meaning of this language, for no one but Saints have the experience necessary to make it plain. In the days of the Savior upon the earth His doctrine brought a division between those who were obedient to it and those who were not. Instead of peace, strife, hatred and opposition were brought to the surface by it, not in the hearts of those who received His doctrine, but in the hearts of those who fought it.

"This is also a most remarkable peculiarity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as we see it preached in our day. The nearer the relatives are who fight against the work and refuse to receive the Gospel, the more bitter appears to be the hostility which they manifest. They divide themselves from their obedient kindred, become their enemies and literally fulfill the words of the Savior, that 'a man's foes shall be they of his own household.'" (Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, selected, arranged, and edited by Jerreld L. Newquist [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 306.)

Luke 12:56 Ye is it that ye do not discern this time?

See commentary for Matthew 16:3.