By Brooke Holt
“And he told them a parable, saying, ‘The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: 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 ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.’” Luke 12:16-21
Relax-Eat-Drink-Be Merry—sounds like the American retirement dream! Clearly, this is not just the American dream but a human dream. Mankind longs for security, ease, and enjoyment. These are not necessarily bad things; it is the pursuit of them that can lead to idolatry and greed.
So, what prompted Jesus to tell this parable of the rich fool? As Jesus was teaching his disciples, someone in the crowd yelled to Jesus: “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (Luke 12:13). This was an interesting demand to make on Jesus, especially since Jesus had been teaching about God’s perfect care for his people. Maybe this man felt that receiving his inheritance was a sign of God’s care for him. We are not sure what exactly prompted the question, but we can be sure Jesus wanted to teach this man and all his followers about their treasures.
What better way to teach a lesson than through a parable? In the parable of the rich fool, the man is blessed with abundant crops. He is so blessed that his barn is filled. Instead of seeking others to share in his blessings, this selfish man decides to build an even bigger barn. There, he can store all these goods for himself. And one day, and who knows when that day will be, he will have so much that he can stop laboring and start enjoying.
Sadly, that day of enjoying never came as the man died before he quit all the hoarding, building, and laboring. Jesus wants the hearer to ask who will now enjoy this man’s abundance. He can’t take it with him! Jesus calls this man a “fool,” not a word you frequently read throughout the Scriptures. It was a hard word to convey a hard truth—the treasures of this world are fleeting. Jesus would have his people enjoy this world’s blessings, remember the giver of those blessings, and steward those gifts well. God’s people are blessed to be a blessing.
The Lord would have you take time to relax, eat, drink, and be merry. He does not want your life to be perpetual toil and struggle. God loves to bless his people and to then see his people delight in those blessings. What Jesus warns against in this parable is making earthly wealth, comfort, and enjoying the ultimate end. When earthly things become your treasure, they rob you of eternal things. Later in this Gospel, Jesus continues this teaching about the dangers of pursuing earthly wealth: “no servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Luke 16:13).
Are you laying up treasures for yourself in this world or in the world to come? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
Comments will be approved before showing up.