What To Learn From Big Mistakes

Luke 12:13-21

Can you remember the dumbest mistake you ever made? You probably can but I suspect you don't want to talk about it! To make you feel better, here are some dumb mistakes others have made, starting with the fellow who spit orange seeds out the window of his car, only to discover that his window was rolled up.

Not dumb enough for you? Here are two more. A New York newspaper once sent to press an advertisement for a magazine that was just being published. By the error of both the printer and the proofreader, the cost of the year's subscription was given as ten cents! Thirty-thousand readers of the newspaper sent in their dimes for a year's subscription and the newspaper had to stand good for the mistake.

You can't believe everything you ever read, but I also came across this. An extremely costly mistake was made by General Motors one time. They had to recall 4.9 million vehicles to check for faulty carburetors and exhaust systems. The postage alone for sending the registered letters cost them more than four million dollars.

One important thing to remember about any mistakes we make in life is they are generally not fatal and CAN BE FORGIVEN IN CHRIST!

Let's talk about mistakes, as this is what happens in our text this morning. Jesus is teaching in the text just ahead of what we read and this gentleman, not listening, comes in with an unrelated question. This question is not based on anything Jesus is saying, but on money. This parable tells us some three things about this poor soul that we can learn about ourselves. Here is the first.


You remember what we just read. With a good crop coming in, the man asks in verse 17, "What shall I do?" As in, "What shall I do with my money? How shall I spend my money on me?" It sounds like he isn't thinking about anybody but himself.

Let me share what he's done using the following illustration about a beggar and a passerby. The beggar was dirty and hungry. As the passerby came upon him she gave him a quarter. "Tell me," she asked, "How did you get so destitute?" "Well, ma' am," the beggar said, "I was just like you one time, always giving vast sums of money to the poor."

Obviously, that woman wasn't giving vast sums of money to the poor. Of course, if we give anything to the poor, we are doing something. But I doubt seriously that any of us will ever give away too much money.

Any time we think only about ourselves, our wants, our needs, or what we want to do and never consider anybody else? Yes, we are in trouble! Through Jesus here today, God is making one thing clear: He wants us to think of others!

Here is Proverbs 11:24-25, on your sermon sheet.  "Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."

I have two quotes for you. Both are on your sermon notes page. The first is from Charles Kingsley who said, "If you want to be miserable, think much about yourself, about what you want, what you like, what respect people ought to pay you, and what people think of you." The second is from Eugene Bertin said, "It is when we forget ourselves that we do things that are remembered."

One of the biggest mistakes people make in life is selfishness.


Here is verse 18 from today's reading. The rich fool thought about his material goods, but not about the Giver of the goods!

 Here is another illustration. Preacher H.A. Ironside was in a crowded restaurant one day. Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited the man to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, "Do you have a headache?" Ironside replied, "No, I don't." The other man asked, "Well, is there something wrong with your food?" Ironside replied, "No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat."

The man said, "Oh, you're one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don't have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!"

Ironside said, "Yes, you're just like my cows. That's what they do too!"

Hear this scripture on your notes page. James 1:16-17 says the following: "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

All good things come from God our Father. All good material, physical, and spiritual things come from God. Sometimes we just don't look at things correctly. We are blind to the goodness of God.

Let me set up differently. Two friends met for their high school class reunion. Their names were Miles and Jeffery. While they were talking, Miles said, "That's a nice car you're driving." It was a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass wagon, just a few years old with few miles on it. Miles proceeded to tell Jeffery about all the trouble he'd had with it.

After Miles finished lamenting, Jeffery told him about an old Dodge that he had just bought which had something like 85,000 miles on it. Miles thought to himself, "I would never buy a car with that many miles on it." Miles figured with that many miles it was about wore out.

Jeffery went on to tell Miles how most of the miles were highway miles that the car was a good car and the car was "a blessing from the Lord." In fact, Jeffery put it this way, "It's a good car. God gave it to me." Jeffery had actually bought the car but he felt as though God had given it to him.

Now get the picture: Here's Miles complaining about a fairly new car and Jeffery has an old car with a lot of miles on it and he considers it to be a blessing from God!

But don't we all tend to be this way? We take many of our blessings for granted and/or we gripe about the ones we have, forgetting about how good God has been to us!

Here's something else to think about. I Cor. 4:7 "For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?"

Here's what Paul is saying. "What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn't given you? And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you have accomplished something on your own?"

Someone put it this way: "Not only count your blessings, but consider their source as well."

Psalm 103:1-2 says this. "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all His benefits."

In considering your goods, don't forget the Giver.


Here is verse 19 in today's reading. The man said, "I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'"

Here's another illustration. A preacher said to one of her deacons, "Someone said  you went to a ball game this morning instead of coming to church." "That's a lie," said the deacon, "and here's the fish to prove it."

Many people miss church for various reasons. Often, it is simply because they are wrapped up with life and its luxuries.

James 4:13-14 "Now, listen you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

James compares our lives to a mist that appears in the sky and then suddenly it is gone! Life is short! No matter how long we live on earth. James is saying that most people get all wrapped up in making plans for their lives but they forget about preparing for the next life!

There is a life after this life and it is eternal! Are we making plans for that life?

Here's my final illustration. Carmichael brushed his teeth twice a day and with a nationally advertised toothpaste. The doctors examined him twice a year. He changed the batteries in his smoke detector twice a year. He slept with the windows open to get fresh air.  He stuck to a diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. He ate incredibly well. He golfed but never more than 18 holes at a time. (He didn't want to overdo it. Moderation in all things!) He got at least 8 hours of sleep every night. He never smoked, drank, or lost his temper. He did his "daily dozen" daily (meaning his exercises). He was all set to live to be a hundred years old.

His funeral will be held Wednesday. Carmichael is survived by 18 specialists, four health institutes, six gyms and numerous manufacturers of health foods and antiseptics. He made just one mistake: HE FORGOT GOD!

I close with the last verse on your notes sheet, Proverbs 11:4 "Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death."

We talked about big mistakes today. Don't be like this guy in scripture. In planning for yourself, don't forget your neighbor. Two, in considering your gifts, don't forget the giver. And three, when providing for your body, don't forget your God.

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Children's Sermon:

Two friends met for dinner in a restaurant. Each one requested fish and after a few minutes the waiter came back with their order. Two pieces of fish, a large one and medium-sized one, were on the same platter.

One of the men proceeded to serve his friend. Placing the medium-sized piece of fish on a different plate, he handed it across the table to his friend. His friend said, "Well, you certainly do have a lot of nerve!"

"What's the matter?" asked the other man. "Look at what you've done! You've given me the smaller piece of fish and you kept the big one for yourself."

The man responded, "Well, how would you have served the fish?" The angry man said, "If I were serving, I would have given you the bigger piece." "WELL," replied the man, "I'VE GOT THE BIGGER PIECE, DON'T I?"

Any time we want the bigger piece of anything it is because we are thinking only of ourselves! There are many people who always want the bigger piece!

The Christian way of life is where we think of others and how we can help them and bless them. The Apostle Peter characterized Jesus in Acts 10:38 as one "who went about doing good" to others. If we claim to follow Christ then we must follow Him in doing good to others.

Rom. 12:10 "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves."

Gal. 6:2 "Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."


Phil. 2:4 "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."