Don’t Be a Rich Fool

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Reading the Word

Luke 12:16–21 (ESV)

16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 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. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous verses (vv. 13-15), Jesus addressed covetousness. In today’s verses, he continues to address the same issue with a parable. A rich man took great care to prepare himself for all of his earthly needs. However, Jesus calls him a “fool.” Why? Because he had laid up all of his treasure for himself and had not been rich toward God.

The rich man’s wealth had caused him to become self-sufficient and we see it in his words. Over and over he says “I will do this” and “I will do that” and “my barns” and “my grain.” He does not need God because of all he has done for himself. The rich man has prepared himself for a future of ease (cf. verse 19) in his own strength.

We are called to use all that we have been given, including our finances, to further the kingdom of Christ. We do this by spreading the gospel and assisting others to do the same. We are rich towards God when we make his purposes the priority of our lives. However, how many of us really do this? If we examined where our time, resources, and money goes, would it look like we are being rich towards God or keeping it all for ourselves? Do we trust that the Lord will provide for our daily needs or are we working to provide for ourselves like the rich fool?

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The Poverty of Riches

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Reading the Word

Psalm 49:13–20 (ESV)

13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. 15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. 17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. 18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself— 19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. 20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

Understanding and Applying the Word

There are things money cannot buy. Perhaps you are familiar with the song “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Money may bring people close to us for different reasons, but it cannot make someone love us. So too, money is of no value when a person dies. Nothing that a person is able to obtain in this life will follow to the grave. Not our possessions. Not our accomplishments.

So, what will we do to prepare for death? The foolish person will find confidence in possessions and self. The wise will trust in God who is able to save from the power of death. That is exactly why God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. He came to die in our place. He died and rose again to defeat death for us. When we trust in him, rather than ourselves, we find forgiveness and eternal life. Do not place your trust in your wealth, your possessions, or even your accomplishments. None of those things will matter in the end. Trust in God and he will save.

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