As I was reading the gospels, I was again struck again by the way that the Lord Jesus Christ used everyday situations to teach spiritual and eternal meanings. It has also heightened my awareness of how many of the parables of the Lord Jesus Christ have eternal validity for his day and ours. Therefore, for a number of weeks I will look to such parables.
I will start with the well-known parable of the Rich Fool. Because some of my readers may not recall it instantly, or may not be aware of it, I will reproduce it here from Luke 12:16-21.
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 myself, ‘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 towards God.”
One of the foundational principles of the Bible is that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift and because God is the one giving all these things to us, we in turn should be generous towards other people. The underlying point of this parable is that the rich man acts as though there is no God. He is a naturalist, a materialist, a deist, a man who stands on his own power and in his own accomplishments.
When I listen to some of my capitalistic friends, the overwhelming conclusion is that the market is an entity of its own. The freedom of the market is of utmost importance. The market on its own will produce all of the things that we need. And for some, the market has created lifestyles that continually require the expansion of the barns. They need bigger homes or multiple homes because their new friends do not think that what they have now is sufficient.
The abrupt conclusion in this parable is that the rich fool dies. He is a fool in two ways – in one way because he has to leave all of his riches here on earth and in the second way because he was rich in this world, but lacking in a relationship with God. Because he only thought of this world, he never thought about the world that follows when we leave this earth.
Sometimes in His wisdom God makes the riches disappear. Most of us in the United States have lost at least one quarter of our investments, and some people have lost even more. I must confess that I have not heard that verse from Job very often, “The Lord has given; the Lord has taken, blessed by the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21b). What I have heard so much is that we are missing our previous lifestyles and some of the people who have lost it are working feverishly to regain it.
I was wondering if at many times God is looking to our greed, at our desire to increase the barns versus giving to the needy and says to us, “You rich fool! You are storing, you are expanding, without remembering me as the giver of all the things that you have and as the one who is commanding you to give it to others as I give it to you.” Will we continue to be rich in our accumulated possessions, or will we as a nation become rich towards God by acting as He wants to act with the possessions that He has entrusted to us?