The Book of Luke, Beware of Greed, Part III - Lesson 159
Luke 12:16‑21, 6And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: 17And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? 18And 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. 19And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. 20But 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? 21So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
This parable was spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ in response to an ill-timed request from a man who wished for Jesus to judge between him and his brother.
For the man interrupted the Lord by saying: speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.
Jesus Christ would partake in none of this, for he was not there to judge but to save, and he responded by asking the man:
who made me a judge or a divider over you?
So instead of being a judge for the man, he tells a parable which is designed for the man to judge himself for it concerns the sin of greed.
He brings to his mind and all who could hear, a certain rich man who thought about himself like the questioning man thought about himself.
God’s word pierces through the shallow thinking of this rich man.
The Word of Christ exposes the rich man’s sin and reveals his future, which differs greatly from what the rich man supposed.
And in providing this parable, the man who requested a judgment and all those who heard, including us, are to see their own shallow thinking regarding the laying up of treasures.
The laying up of treasures without regard to God, presupposes a future which we have no right to think is guaranteed, for God is the only one who determines whether or not we have a future in this life.
Our responsibility is to ask for our daily bread.
We are to assume this day and this day alone.
We are to know from this that God always has the last word in every conversation.
God always has the last word in every transaction, in every deal, in every contract.
So God called the man a fool, this man whose solution to life and whose wealth suggested to those around him that he was wise.
If the man looked forward to a long life, a life of ease, God said that his life would end, this very night, before any of the good things of his prosperity would be enjoyed.
What he so carefully saved for himself, another would end up possessing.
Is this so contrary to the norm in this life.
We work and work and work to accumulate and most of that which we accumulate will end up being divided and given to others.
None of us are very good at ending up with little.
And so God overrules this rich man’s plan and pronounces the
end of the matter in verse 21 to all men who would store up things for himself, rather than to be rich toward God:
21So is he (a fool) that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
This man was not rich toward God.
He was rich toward himself for he wished to keep the bounty which God has supplied close to himself.
God’s word reveals that in his conversations with himself he had used the personal pronoun “I” six times and the possessive pronoun “my” five times.
This is meant to reveal to us that this man was wrapped up in himself.
In focusing his attention upon that which he could not keep he neglected any attention upon that which was of eternal value, his soul.
Jesus put this into perspective when he said in:
Matthew 16:26, For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Would this man think that he could bring to God his produce packed barns in exchange for his soul?
Can you take your bankbook and your land deeds and your paid up mortgage to God and impress him enough to let you into heaven?
No this man’s great harvest would be brought in by others, his new barns he would never see, the golden years would never be his but his soul was destined to live somewhere forever.
How foolish it is to not be rich toward God!
Take no lesson here that Jesus condemns saving but take the lesson here that it is not right to not be rich toward God.
Jesus said: Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.
It is a matter of the priority of life.
We are to delight ourselves in God and this will result in being rich toward him.
As Psalm 37:4 says: Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
So where had the rich fool gone wrong?
God’s words, along with those of our Lord, were probably shocking to those who heard them, and so they should be for us as well.
The rich fool is a man who would be looked up to and praised by our culture, and praised in most churches, for he was a wealthy man.
That in itself seems to speak well of him, especially in a time when men equate spirituality and success.
Today, we call it the “prosperity gospel.
Here was a man who had been able to control his appetite, or so it seemed.
Here was a man who is not described as spending his money on himself, but who had the discipline to save it, “for a rainy day,”.
Here was a man who thought of the future and who prepared himself for it.
How could such a man be called a fool?
How could this man receive God’s rebuke, and that of the Lord Jesus?
What is there about this man’s thinking and his actions which is foolish?
What was the man who had made the request of Jesus to judge between him with his brother, to learn from this story?
And what are we to learn from this parable?
One of the primary lessons that we are to learn is that the rich fool was foolish in failing to recognize where his wealth had come from.
Regardless of how smart you are or how hard you work God is still in charge and without God nothing works.
Jesus was careful to tell us that the man’s ground produced a great harvest.
God gave the bountiful crop but the rich fool had no regard for God at all thinking that he was fully responsible for his well-being.
The second thing we are to learn is that the rich fool erred in his understanding of the purpose of wealth.
If the rich fool failed to grasp where his wealth came from, he also failed to understand what he was to do with it.
He thought that wealth was to store up and to save, rather than to use.
He further believed that wealth, when it was to be used, was to be used for his own comfort and ease with no thought for God’s work for others.
He did not see his wealth as an opportunity to praise God, and as the means which permitted him offer sacrifices and offerings.
Neither did he see his wealth as a God‑given provision for him to minister to others.
It never occurred to the rich fool that when his barns could not hold any more, he could have given some of his wealth away.
Thirdly the rich fool was foolish in that he saw his possessions as his security, and as the basis for his ceasing to be productive.
It would seem from this man’s words that he not only planned to retire, but that he planned an early retirement.
His wealth, we might say, was his “social security.”
He said to himself that he would be at ease once his bigger barns were built and his crops were safely stored inside, along with his goods.
He is planning to hang up his tools and to retire to the rocking chair.
He is looking forward to eating and drinking the finest and in enjoying all the fine things for the rest of his life.
Fourthly the rich fool was foolish in his presuming upon God for a future.
The rich man presumed two things about the future, both of which were false.
First, he presumed that he would possess his wealth in the future.
Second, he presumed that he would be alive in the future, to enjoy his possessions.
Both of these presumptions were shown to be false when his life was demanded of him that very night.
Someone else got his possessions, and he did not live to enjoy what he had stored up.
The rich fool lived his life in the light of the future, but that future did not include the kingdom of God, death, or the judgment to come.
In his mind his future was only as long as his earthly life, and only as broad as his own interests.
But God thinks otherwise, for this man’s future included eternity in which he had given no thought.
And lastly the rich man was a fool both in the way he defined life and in the way he thought life was to be obtained.
Perhaps we have all said at some happy and prosperous time “Oh, this is the life” which is defining life other than the Bible defines life.
The word “life” is frequently used in chapter 12.
To the rich fool “living” or “life” was defined in terms of ease and pleasure, in terms not just of eating and drinking, but of doing so in a way that was enjoyable.
And life was obtained by putting oneself and one’s wealth first.
One found life by seeking life for oneself and by ignoring others, including God.
Jesus told His disciples that the way for a person to obtain life was to give it up.
Matthew 16:25, For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
This man was saving his life in his barns.
Jesus came to bring life.
Indeed, Jesus came, teaching men that He is “the way, the truth, and the life,” (John 14:6; cf. John 10:10).
Paul therefore said that for him to live was Christ.
Christ is life, and if we have received Him by faith, He is our life.
Therefore, Jesus can command His disciples to give up their possessions, their self‑interest, and even their lives, to follow Him, for the things they give up are not life, but He is.
The rich man lived his life exactly the opposite to the way Jesus taught His disciples to live.
Those who die in the pursuit of “life,” “living,” or “living it up” are aided by Satan, the murderer, who leads men to death by promising them and causing them to pursue “life” wrongly defined.
The rich fool was correct to live his life in the light of the future.
He was foolish in his concept of what the future held.
He assumed that he would be alive in the future, to enjoy the things he had stored up.
His grasp of the future did not include God nor the kingdom of God.
His future was entirely “this life” oriented, based upon this earth, based upon his senses.
But Jesus teaching goes beyond that which can be seen, which can be touched or felt.
The teaching of Jesus Christ includes faith in God a faith that focuses on the future.
It focuses on the promises of God for the future, even enduring present pain, persecution, and death in order to experience God’s promised blessings.
The expression “eat, drink, and be merry,” which we find in our text, is one that is based upon the rich fool’s perception of what the future held.
In effect, the rich fool planned to “eat, drink, and be merry” because he believed that he would live.
For the Christian, their view of the future is what enables them to die now, knowing that they will eat and drink in the kingdom of God.
This is why the last and largest section of Luke chapter 12 (verses 35‑59) deals with one’s preparation for the future.
So this parable about this man’s preparation for a future apart from God is our introduction to the preparations that God expects from his children for the glorious future God will unveil for his own.