Parable of the Rich Fool

Recently I’ve been spending some time in Luke’s Gospel. The last couple of weeks have made me pause as I’ve considered the words in chapter 12 and the Parable of the Rich Fool. Jesus’ words right before he begins the parable are extremely insightful. He gives the call consisting of two imperatives (commands) to “take care” and “be on your guard.” Of course the context is in relation to covetousness and the idolatry of loving stuff and temporary things more than we love Jesus. Yet it is Jesus’ final words in v15 that struck me: “for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

So often our lives can be wrapped up around consumable, temporary and perishable things. From something as simple as the next meal or to something of greater magnitude like the next larger purchase or bill (vehicles, taxes, mortgage, etc.) much of our time, resources, energies and mental and emotional bandwidth are given to these things. This is not to say that these things are wrong or inherently sinful. They’re not. Yet when we pursue these things to the neglect of our inner and personal life and spiritual relationship with God and others, our preoccupation with these things become problematic.

At the heart of covetousness is the ultimate desire to serve self. Loving God and loving others as self leaves little room for energies in the coveting department. Yet we are tempted and oftentimes find ourselves in this realm of unhealthy preoccupation with temporary things. We’re human. We’re sinful. It’s not uncommon to face these inner, personal issues. Thus, the words of Jesus and the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus forgives. He forgave us on the cross and the surety of forgiveness’ power is in the proof of His resurrection!

The parable ends (v20-21) with the reckoning of our souls, ”This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared (kept ready), whose will they be? So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich towards God.” All this stuff that we accumulate, hold onto, save for, hoard and keep for ourselves, what will become of them? Whose will they be? Jesus’ call is to be “rich towards God.”

Being rich towards God means that your life does not revolve or consist in the abundance of temporary things. Things like titles, status, material possessions, degrees, family, friends, religious association, income, health and hobbies are not to be kept, gathered or prepared for ourselves. That is the opposite of what it means to be rich towards God. In a day and age where political affiliation, theological correctness, moral superiority, selfish preoccupations, preferential demands and personal values are valued among “Christians” more than obedience to the basic teachings of Scripture we must ask the same question: “Whose will they be?”

The words of Jesus to “make disciples” is what we are attempting to do here at Lakeside Church. It’s not about church growth, bigger budgets, larger attendance or theological rightness, although all of those things are very important and what we strive for. However, ultimately we must not make the mistake of laying up treasures for ourselves in place of what it actually means to be “rich towards God.” The difference is crucial. The implications are eternal. Being rich towards God is seeking his kingdom first and foremost (v.31). Nothing will be hidden from God (v2), and in the final day our false motives, selfish ambitions and temporary treasures will be revealed and judged if we fail to be rich towards God.
 
My prayer for Lakeside Church this week is that we would remember that our life does not consist of stuff. It’s about living our lives before God and with others. We use these temporary things to worship God and to love others. They are gifts from God to be used as tools for Kingdom work, not treasures to hoard for selfish ambitions. So may we be “rich towards God” in new, fresh and tangible ways this week!

Much love,
Wesley

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