Don’t Be a Rich Fool

photography of one us dollar banknotes

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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 Danger of Prosperity

woman in maroon long sleeved top holding smartphone with shopping bags at daytime

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Reading the Word

Psalm 73:4–9 (ESV)

4 For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. 5 They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. 7 Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. 8 They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. 9 They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 73:4-9 resumes by speaking about the seeming prosperity of the wicked. They are healthy and well-fed. They live care-free lives. They are proud and arrogant as they speak against others and even against heaven.

These verses describe the danger of prosperity. Great riches and possessions can cause us to become self-sufficient. There is no need to rely on God day-to-day. This is why Jesus said that it is harder for a rich person to go to heaven than for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24). This is also the point of the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21).

May God give us all that we need, but not so much that we feel we no longer need him. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “Let not the gifts Thy love bestows estrange our hearts from Thee.”

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