Friday, July 25, 2008

The parable of the rich fool

The parable of the rich fool

"And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to my soul, “Soul, you have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:16-21

* This parable is only found in Luke.
* The context and setting of this parable being told is when Jesus was teaching a pretty damn big crowd ("...many thousands...they were trampling each other"...verse 1). Someone in the crowd shouted out and asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. Jesus replied by refusing to involve himself in the brothers tiff, and challenged the crowd to beware of becoming greedy because life was about more than money. The parable is Jesus' was of illustrating his point that life is about more than what we have.
* When Jesus says "a certain... man" he is usually referring to something that actually happened. The parable is based on true events.
* In the parable the rich man actually had a wise plan, to save for the future. Unfortunately it was not all-wise but just world-wise. It wasn't the thinking ahead that was the problem it was the focus of money.
* In the parable God calls the rich guy a fool because everything that he worked for was useless to him.
* After telling the parable Jesus says that this is how it will be with anyone who spends more time/energy/focus on storing up things, without the same "rich" desire for God. It problem isn't about having stuff... its about whether or not we have God.

There is no doubt people think a great deal of the rich and their achievements, and it was no different back then. However, for eternity now the man in the parable is a fool. It isn’t only sin to give material things too high a place in your life - it is also very stupid.

The pattern in the guys language tells us a lot about us as people: " crops... my barns... my goods... my soul". Everything is about him, and nothing is about God. Self-focus is dangerous- in the end, it was proved that nothing was his. He didn’t have any crops, any barns, any goods, and his soul was dead.

If you are really interested in this parable Matthew Henry writes beautifully about it. I can't put things better than him. Here is a link to his study of Luke 12.

The rich fool did the right thing in planning for retirement and for the future, retirement and future are not just on earth- we need to plan for eternal future. It is wise to save and put money away, but is we refuse to help others and do good with the money and possessions we end up going to eternity empty-handed. My grandfather said that "your final shirt has no pockets" meaning you can't take what you "get" on earth to Heaven with you.

We need to decide to use what we have with an eternal perspective. We don't know how long we have on earth left. Lets be people who plan, and even save for the future, but to do it with God and others in mind.

Lets never money or stuff get in the way of us being "rich towards God".

God I don't know how much time I have left on earth. One day I will die or You will return. I don't know when but You do. Help me to always consult you and to live with a perspective that utilises what I have to glorify You and to help people.

I'm sorry for the times I have been greedy or hungry for the wrong things. Help me to want You more than I want money/stuff/comfort.
In Jesus' name, Amen

Questions for comment/discussion
* What is your take on this parable?
* What was it that wrong about the rich man's attitude?
* When you have extra time, money, or stuff, what do you tend to use it for?
* What does it mean to be rich toward God?


Dave Z said...

Thank you, Nick, for your heartfelt discussion on this parable. Here's a similar assessment:

lee woo said...

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. See the link below for more info.


sarah lee said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post, so i think it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the effort you have made in writing this article.