A Rich Fool
13A man in a crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to give me my share of what our father left us when he died.”
14Jesus answered, “Who gave me the right to settle arguments between you and your brother?”
15Then he said to the crowd, “Don't be greedy! Owning a lot of things won't make your life safe.”
16So Jesus told them this story:
A rich man's farm produced a big crop, 17and he said to himself, “What can I do? I don't have a place large enough to store everything.”
18Later, he said, “Now I know what I'll do. I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. 19 Then I'll say to myself, ‘You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’ ”
20But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?”
21“This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God.”
Consumed with clutching my own personal ticket to paradise, I wonder how often I let the saving words of God slip through my fingers. I am all too often like the man who presents his legal battle with a family member, requesting a verdict in his favour. Here Jesus exhorts his followers to abandon a life of worry.
The parable Jesus gives in response addresses the underlying reason for many of our complaints in life. Whether or not we consider ourselves rich (and most of us wouldn’t put ourselves in this category) we are often guilty of thinking that ‘just a little more’ would allow us to relax and finally be happy. We hope for a little more financial security, relationships that suit our needs better and experiences that make us feel truly alive.
Unable to get off the treadmill of striving for more, any success only leads to more worries – the healthy yield means that there is now pressure to preserve what we have. The complicated balance of keeping a storehouse from going stale becomes such a burden that we long to enjoy the simple pleasures in life once again.
Jesus has no patience for the foolishness of this thinking. He offers a harder and better solution. To be rich toward God is to surrender our lives rather than to hold onto them tightly. It is a call to generosity in relationships and being thankful for daily provisions. The goal of the rich man’s hoarding was to eventually be able to ‘Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ Jesus takes us via the back road to abundant life, communion with him and everlasting joy.
Heavenly Father, you know my every need. I return to you the life you have given me, abandoning my striving and stress. Teach me to sow kingdom seeds, that I might enjoy the rich harvest of a life in the Spirit. Through Christ who saves, Amen.