How important are things to you? I would be the first to admit that I have lots of stuff. Far more stuff than I need to survive, or even to live a comfortable life. But how important is all that stuff to me? Would it ruin my life if any of it went away? Is there any of that stuff I would hold on to at all costs? Is there any other stuff that I just have to have to make my life more complete?
Jesus encounters someone who would answer yes to at least that last question. And in response, Jesus tells a parable to illustrate that there is something more important than stuff, encouraging us to focus more on the eternal and less on the perishable.
Luke 12:13-21 KJV 13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.16 And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Do you save everything because you might need it some day? It’s time to get rid of the mindset that we must collect all we can, store it away, and only use it on special occasions. instead we need to start using and loving what we have today.
This parable is prompted by a request from a nameless individual that Jesus force his brother to more equitably divide his father’s inheritance between them. This must have been a younger son, otherwise he would have been happy getting the bulk of the inheritance. But not getting his ‘fair share’ seemed to be grating on him and had become his top priority. So much so that when he has the opportunity to meet with Jesus, that is all he can think about. And Jesus responds with what we call the parable of the rich fool.
In this parable we see a rich man whose fields have produced a bumper crop come to a decision point; what to do with his abundance? And the decision he reaches is one that many of us would make as well. Building barns and bigger barns, storage units and storage units to put all the stuff we have!
For all of us, life here will come to an end. And what will happen to all of that stuff we leave behind? As much as we might like to take some of our stuff with us into the life to come, that won’t happen. All of the riches, and other stuff, that we have accumulated will be left behind for others, just like for the rich man in the parable.
At the end of the parable Jesus makes clear what lesson he is trying to get across. It is actually very similar to what he says in Matthew 6:19-21, where he challenges us to store up our treasure in heaven, where it will last, instead of here on earth where it is only temporary. Am I investing in the work of the kingdom or in my own life. If, like the rich man in the parable, I am only investing in my own life, then, when the time of accounting comes, I will have nothing. And that is what made this rich man a fool. He had so much he could have invested in the kingdom, but choose not to.
Think about that that wedding china you still have in your china cabinet. Why don’t you get it out and use it! Use it to make a special dinner for your family. Even if it is peanut butter and jelly! Or give it away! And that nice expensive dress that has been hanging in your closet for a special occasion? – go, put it on or Give it away!
So it comes down to it Will I be a fool and focus on me and all my stuff? Or will I give to others, both my stuff and my time and focus more on God?