The Rich Fool

“Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. “And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21)

It is agreed that we are responsible to be stewards of our lives in this world. In that task we spend six days a week caring for the concerns we have for our families, our friends, our God, and ourselves. Traditionally we spend the seventh day as a day dedicated to our Lord and rest for our bodies. This is the command of God that we do this. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:9-11)

Traditionally, as the Lord rose from the grave on the first day of the week, this is the day that we gather in His house and worship Him. It is a time when we are to focus our complete attention to our God, Lord, and Savior. Many do not leave the world beyond the doors of His Sanctuary and bring the cares and worries of the world into the House of God and allow this to distract their worship of Him. This of course is a distraction to one’s worship and possibly the worship others have towards their God and a distraction to the Minister of the Gospel. A similar occurrence happened to Jesus when He was teaching. His subject that day was the importance of fearing God with reverent respect and professing our faith before others. As He was teaching a man in the crowd interrupted Him and asked Him to resolve a dispute over the family inheritance.

The response from Jesus was a warning followed by a Parable told to the crowd of listeners who had gathered to hear His teaching. His message through the telling of the Parable was of the dangers of covetousness and over confidence in worldly riches.

The request the man made was this, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” Luke 12:13) The question that this man asked showed that he was not interested in the spiritual truths that were being taught by Jesus. The man’s interest was only on how he could get a share of his brother’s inheritance. This would be the same lack of respect as thinking about the Super Bowl during a message during Church service.

The displeasure of Jesus is evident in that He referred to the person as “man.” This is the Son of God, the lover of men’s souls, who distances Himself by calling Him “man.” It is in my mind that God is reminding him that he is only a man, a creature of God’s creation, and he should have proper fear, which means that he had missed the point of what Jesus was teaching. Jesus responds by refusing to become an arbitrator between him and the brother. Jesus was not going to satisfy the man’s covetousness, which is at the heart of the man’s problem. Jesus issued a warning but not only to the man but to the whole of the group that were present, as He spoke to “them.” “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)

The problem is this that life consist of both physical and spiritual well-being. Material abundance will not prolong one’s physical life and neither will abundance ensure that one will be rich towards God. Jesus expresses His point with the Parable of the Rich Fool.

We learn that a rich man was blessed with an abundant crop which was more than he had storage for. The rich man decided to tear down his barns and build larger ones to hold his crops. With this surplus the rich man decides to retire and enjoy the fruits of his labor. God responds to the plans of the rich man telling him that he is a fool. God tells the man that very night his soul will be required of him and how then will his possession of his wealth serve him?

The rich man had assumed that his life consisted of the abundance of his possessions. All the crops that he had acquired were his and they would provide for his need for many years to come. The foolishness of the rich man is that he fails to consider that his body is mortal and will not live on for many years as he had planned. Neither does the rich man consider that his riches will not satisfy his soul. Because of the rich man’s greed he has no consideration for the need of others as he is only thinking of himself. The rich man does not praise and glorify God for the blessings that the Lord has given to him. If the man had a reverent fear of God his Creator he would have thought to show his thankfulness as the Psalmist. “What shall I render to the LORD For all His benefits toward me?” (Psalm 116:12)

Beginning in verse 21Jesus begins to make the application for this Parable. Those who spend all their energy storing up treasure for themselves are not rich toward God and therefore are as the rich fool. Also if all your plans focus on yourself and not God and your neighbor then you are no different that the rich fool.

My thought is that our future does not belong to us but to God. He has appointed a time for us to depart this world. “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Therefore our security is not in the things of this world but in our faith in God. Our focus should be on the world to come and not on a passing world of today. We make our plans in our hearts but it is God who will direct our paths. “The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) It is not our will that shall be done but God’s will and we must be mindful of that. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

It is a blessing from God to be physically wealthy and that may make us rich but not rich towards God. If we are to live in a proper eternal perspective then we must insure that we are rich towards God. We must have spiritual peace with our Creator. Spiritual blessings do not come from this world but come from God. To be rich towards God we must be abiding in Christ. This is where our spiritual blessings come from. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

We are to be good stewards of the material riches that God has given and their proper use is essential towards that purpose. As Jesus said soon after telling this Parable. “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34)

In the counsel that Jesus gave the Rich Young Ruler we see that as stewards of God’s gifts we are to care for those who are less fortunate. We are God’s instruments in providing for all His people. God has given to us that we may provide for others. To the Rich Young Ruler Jesus said this. “Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21)

What we do with our wealth, our possessions is a demonstration of where our heart really is. Do we love God with all our heart and soul and our neighbor as our self? If our heart is in the right place, then we will store our treasure in heaven and not in a passing world. As Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant February 24, 2017

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