Verse of the Day Devotion Luke 12:16 And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a certain rich man was very productive.
Today we will look at the Parable of the Rich Fool. Here is this parable as found in Luke’s gospel.
“And He told them a parable, saying, The land of a certain 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? And 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 lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21.
Jesus tells this parable in response to a question He received from someone who was listening to Him. “And someone in the crowd said to Him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” Luke 12:13. He answers him stating it is not up to Him to judge this issue. “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you? And 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.” Luke 12:14-15. The key to understanding this parable is in verse 15 (and later summarized in verse 21), “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.” Luke 12:15. Jesus says this to the man who asked Him to arbitrate between him and his brother. In ancient times, the firstborn was guaranteed a double portion of the family inheritance. More than likely, the brother who was addressing Jesus was not the firstborn and was asking for an equal share of the inheritance. Jesus refuses to arbitrate their dispute and gets to the heart of the matter: Covetousness! Jesus warns this person, and all within earshot, that our lives are not to be about gathering wealth. Life is so much more than the abundance of possessions.
And then from our focus verse, Jesus tells this man a parable. “He starts it by saying that a man planted a garden which then produced an extreme amount of produce. He then asks himself, “What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?” Luke 12:17. With this he had two reasonable answers; he could either share it with others in need or keep it all and create more storage facilities. In this parable, he chose the latter. “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.” Luke 12:18-19.
In what has he been a fool? Not in his foresight and planning; in these he has been exemplary. Nor was he wicked or unjust. His folly is his oblivion to God. There are many forms of pride, but the worst of them is to think that one has no need of God. He does not acknowledge the source of his blessings. Rather, he gathers to himself and serves himself. Having failed to recognize his wealth as a gift of God, the rich man rests all his hopes in things. Investment in things never pays the dividends one hopes for. He may eat, drink, and be merry as the rich man said, but he is a fool, for tomorrow we shall die. This is the second and final time in Luke Jesus calls someone a fool, and in both instances was for confusing temporal earthly realities with eternal divine realities.
So, the point of the Parable of the Rich Fool is twofold. First, we are not to devote our lives to the gathering and accumulation of wealth. There is an interesting point made in the parable. God says to the man in the story, And the things you have prepared, whose will they be? This same idea is found in the old testament. “Thus, I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. Therefore, I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 2:18-20.
The second point of the Parable of the Rich Fool is the fact that we are not blessed by God to hoard our wealth to ourselves. We are blessed to be a blessing in the lives of others, and we are blessed to build the kingdom of God. The Bible says if our riches increase, we are not to set our hearts upon them. “Do not trust in oppression, And do not vainly hope in robbery; If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.” Psalm 62:10. The Bible also says there is one who gives freely and grows all the richer. “The desire of the righteous is only good, But the expectation of the wicked is wrath. There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, And there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered. He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.” Proverbs 11:23-26.
In closing, Paul speaks of this idea as well. “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. We are blessed by God, so we can in turn “abound in every good work” and be a blessing in the lives of others. So, if God has blessed you with material wealth do not set your heart on it but be rich toward God. That is the message of the Parable of the Rich Fool.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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