A Warning against Hypocrisy
12 1 By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other's toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus' primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, "Watch yourselves carefully so you don't get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. 2 You can't keep your true self hidden forever; before long you'll be exposed. You can't hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. 3 You can't whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day's coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.
Whom to Fear
4 "I'm speaking to you as dear friends. Don't be bluffed into silence or insincerity by the threats of religious bullies. True, they can kill you, but then what can they do? There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. 5 Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life - body and soul - in his hands. 6 "What's the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. 7 And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail - even numbering the hairs on your head! So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries.
Confessing Christ before Men
8 "Stand up for me among the people you meet and the Son of Man will stand up for you before all God's angels. 9 But if you pretend you don't know me, do you think I'll defend you before God's angels? 10 "If you bad-mouth the Son of Man out of misunderstanding or ignorance, that can be overlooked. But if you're knowingly attacking God himself, taking aim at the Holy Spirit, that won't be overlooked. 11 "When they drag you into their meeting places, or into police courts and before judges, don't worry about defending yourselves - what you'll say or how you'll say it. 12 The right words will be there. The Holy Spirit will give you the right words when the time comes."
The Parable of the Rich Fool
13 Someone out of the crowd said, "Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance." 14 He replied, "Mister, what makes you think it's any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?" 15 Speaking to the people, he went on, "Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot." 16 Then he told them this story: "The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. 17 He talked to himself: 'What can I do? My barn isn't big enough for this harvest.' 18 Then he said, 'Here's what I'll do: I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I'll gather in all my grain and goods, 19 and I'll say to myself, Self, you've done well! You've got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!' 20 "Just then God showed up and said, 'Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods - who gets it?' 21 "That's what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God."
Care and Anxiety
22 He continued this subject with his disciples. "Don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or if the clothes in your closet are in fashion. 23 There is far more to your inner life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. 24 Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more. 25 "Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? 26 If fussing can't even do that, why fuss at all? 27 Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don't fuss with their appearance - but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. 28 If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 29 "What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving. 30 People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. 31 Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.