2017-06-25 – Luke 12:13-21– Parables of Jesus – Greed
The Parable of the Rich Fool
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull 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, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
2017-06-25 – Luke 12:13-21– Parables of Jesus – Greed, Page 74
Good morning everyone. I am so pleased that you chose to spend the morning with us here today..
Last week we went over the parable generally called The Friend at Night. The story dealt with the topic of just who is our neighbor and what does it mean to be a neighbor. We also talked about some important prayer principles: 1) That we need to come confidently before God in prayer. 2) That if we knock, God will open doors for us. And 3) That we can count on our Heavenly Father to answer our prayers. God loves you dear church family, always has, always does, and always will. Amen?
Today the sermon title is Greed, and we are going over Luke 12:13-21, The Parable of the Rich Fool, Page 74 of the New Testament in our Bible, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Let us Pray…
Question: What does the World Book Encyclopedias and Rainbow vacuum cleaners have in common? Answer: Nothing except for the fact that I got taken on an expensive ride with each of them when I was younger. Not to mention a couple Whole-Life insurance policies through the years. Yes each of these involved a door-to-door salesman that was very convincing, and I found myself in an ever deepening financial obligation that I really didn’t want to be in. Ever been there? Now don’t get me wrong, the products themselves were not bad, but I probably paid a lot more for their utility than I should have. Bad decisions hurt don’t they. We are going to see some of that dynamic in our message today. A bad and tragic decision indeed.
The parable of “The Rich Fool” is one of three parables which we’ll cover in consecutive segments, all of which touch on wealth and personal possessions. These parables aren’t the only teachings of Jesus on wealth and its use or misuse, but these are instances when Jesus used parables to teach about it. After “The Rich Fool,” the parables which will follow are “The Rich Man and Lazarus” and “The Unjust Steward.” Something profound in each for us to learn from Jesus
Luke chapter 12 verse 13 begins with Jesus teaching His disciples while standing within earshot of a crowd of many thousands. At one point someone nearby addresses Jesus. Our verse says:
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?
It wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for someone to ask a teacher or rabbi to mediate a legal dispute such as this one. Rabbis were known to be experts in the laws of Moses and spent much of their time giving legal advice on such matters.
In this situation perhaps the father died without a will, either written or oral, resulting in a dispute between two brothers. The man calling out to Jesus would most likely be the younger brother, as the father’s inheritance, which would likely include land, could not be divided if the older brother did not agree. Might be that the older brother possibly preferred that the land or the estate be kept undivided and that both brothers live on it together, which was common. However, the younger brother apparently is not content with this arrangement and therefore is virtually demanding that Jesus tell his older brother to divide the inheritance.
Jesus’s response is rather harsh and could seem to indicate a hint of annoyance. “who made Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” The King James Version says “judge or divider over you.” The younger brother is not asking for Jesus to bring reconciliation between himself and his brother. He’s asking Jesus to effectively side with him and to tell his brother to divide the inheritance. In a sense he’s trying to take advantage what he perceives as Jesus’s position of influence as a rabbi or teacher to pressure his brother.
Jesus follows up with:
“Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
Effectively Jesus gives a warning to all present to be on guard against all types of greed—the burning or insatiable desire to have more. The solution which will bring healing and restoration isn’t dividing the inheritance but getting rid of covetousness or self-serving attitude within his heart. “Do not Covet” is the tenth commandment that God gave to the Israelites through Moses. It’s about Greed.
Jesus then proceeds to tell the parable of the rich fool. In order to fully understand this parable, it helps to bear in mind that the Bible teaches us that God created everything, and that everything ultimately belongs to Him, and that we are stewards of what God has given to us. As it says in Psalm 24:1: “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the LORD.”
In response to the brother’s appeal to divide the land, and in alignment with His comments about greed and possessions, Jesus told this parable, verse 16:
“The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
So the man in our parable today was already rich, and his land had just produced a bumper crop. It was probably one of those years which had just the right amount of sunshine and rain. There’s no indication that he worked harder on this crop than he had on any other, but this year there was a huge surplus, so much so that he didn’t have room in his present barns. Now we live in what is called the breadbasket of America. Even some in this church could probably identify with this farmers situation. I love the American farmer, and I have had the privilege to know a few over the years. Right now times are tough for the farmers, and it doesn’t look like it will be improving anytime soon. But in recent years we have seen some fantastic situations with bumper crops and high grain prices.
This farmer in our parable apparently doesn’t consider that the abundance he has is God’s blessing, or that ultimately God is the owner of the crops, his land, and of all that he has for that matter. In this parable we hear his internal dialogue about what to do with the abundance, and notice he’s speaking about “my crops, my barns, my grain, my goods, my soul” … there’s no mention of God or God’s blessings. In his mind it’s all his. As we will see, he has no thoughts of using the abundance in a way that would benefit others in the community or to glorify God. Rather he says to himself: “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.” I, I, I…
I don’t know about you, but experience and wisdom has taught me that when I am talking with somebody, and I hear a chain of self-acclimation, using the word I, I, I, or Me, Me, Me, little alarms go off in my spirit. Now I tend to slowly back away from those kinds of conversations and maybe even physically back away as there is generally no room for me or us in their formula.
This self-indulgent rich man, who already has plenty, plans to store the crops in new, larger barns; with the idea that once he does, he will be financially set for many years ahead. He says to himself, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”
The book of Ecclesiastes speaks of eating, drinking, and being joyful, but it also reminds us that God has given us even the very days of our lives, all our time on earth belong to Him. Jesus makes this very clear as the parable continues:
But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’
Jesus calls this man a fool. Those listening would have been reminded of the verse in the book of Psalms that says:
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” The farmer wasn’t thinking about God at all. He was patting himself on his back..
Whenever I see or hear a phrase with the word “fool” it kind of takes me a back a bit. I don’t really like that word, and I try not to use it. However the word is listed many times in the old and new Testaments. Here are a few for you to ponder:
Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes:
Proverbs 26:11 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.
Proverbs 10:23-25 Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.
Proverbs 14:8-10 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.
Psalm 14:1 Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!
Matthew 5:22 Anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
The rich man is called a fool because he’s left God out of the picture. He sees his prosperity as what will secure his future. In his mind, if he’s financially secure, then his future is taken care of. He can eat, drink, and be merry. What could go wrong? We have seen that dynamic in this life as well. People are so secure that they feel they don’t need God. Then the bottom drops out and they are lost.
The rich man here is not taking into account that God is the one who gave him the increase. He’s also not considering that God even gave him his life. In our verses here, the Greek words used to express “this night your soul is required” contain language that is related to repaying a loan. And like a loan which has come due, the man’s life abruptly ends, showing how meaningless and foolish his plans really were. His riches and possessions offered him no real security at all.
The Apostle James made a similar point in his Letter, when he wrote:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
The rich man in our parable didn’t include God in the equation. According to his way of thinking, everything was his, including his life. But Jesus is making the point that it’s all on loan in a sense; it all belongs to God. The rich man was mapping out his future with no thought of God or of God’s role and rule in his life.
Jesus continued by saying:
And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?
Those hearing this parable might have been reminded of scriptures from the book of Ecclesiastes and from Psalms which say:
I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun.
Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
As the old saying goes, you can’t take it with you. All physical wealth is left behind upon death, and it no longer has any value to the one who owned it. Jesus succinctly makes this point in the parable and then ends with:
So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
This rich man is a rich fool. Is he called a fool because he’s rich? No. The message of the parable isn’t about the condemning of riches; it’s about the improper use of the riches and about those who take no thought for God. The rich fool saw the blessing of the abundant crop as a means to provide for his own enjoyment and his own security. He thought only of himself, his future, and his pleasure. There was no consideration that perhaps God had given him this increase for a reason beyond his own desires, such as helping the poor and needy of the community.
The conclusion of the parable speaks about being rich toward God.
In the verses which follow this parable, Jesus speaks about trusting God for our lives and our provision; saying that if God will feed the ravens, who have no storehouses or barns, and if He clothes the lilies of the field, that He will take care of us as well. He says we are to put our trust in God, to seek His kingdom, and He will take care of us. It’s in doing these things—trusting God, seeking Him, doing His will—that we provide ourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with treasure in heaven which does not fail. We’re told to lay up treasure in heaven. We are rich toward God when we acknowledge Him, when we do what He asks, when we live according to His teachings, when we seek to do His will and what He has asked us to do.
This parable speaks to all of us. Of course we all need resources to live, and it’s wise to set aside money for the future if we can. There is nothing inherently wrong with having possessions or plenty in finances. Riches aren’t evil in themselves. However, those who have them face spiritual challenges, such as the greed of the rich man in this parable. The Bible teaches not to trust in riches, and Jesus warns us of how the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches can effectively choke us.
Recall that Jesus also said in Matt 19: “Truly I tell you, it is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
The man’s riches were not the problem; his heart was the problem. He loved more his treasure and his riches, and not God. He was not rich toward God. He wasn’t laying up treasures in heaven; he was greedily storing his abundance with no thought of God or of others who were in need.
So what about us? Do we recognize that all that we own actually belongs to God? And if so, do we look to Him regarding how we use and manage our resources? Do we thank and praise God for what He’s provided for us? When He blesses us financially, do we in turn bless others in need? Do we bless God by giving back to Him in tithes and offerings?
As the great evangelist Oswald J. Smith once said:
[The question is] not how much of my money will I give to God, but how much of God’s money will I keep for myself.”
God wants us to be prudently frugal. Now that’s a word you don’t hear very often any longer; Frugal: It means economical in use; prudently saving; not wasteful. Synonyms are: thrifty, careful, prudent, and penny-pinching. Be prudently frugal.
No matter what our financial situation, we can be like the rich fool. It wasn’t the fact that he was wealthy that made him greedy. No matter how much or how little we may have, we can easily become covetous by focusing on riches, or even the lack of them, to where we squeeze God out of our lives; to where we stop trusting in Him, stop following Him, and stop living with the understanding that we are called to be rich toward Him, to lay up our treasures in heaven.
May we each learn to involve God in every aspect of our lives, including how we use our finances and the material goods He has blessed us with. May we look to Him for His direction on how to use the blessings He’s given us, and may we reflect His nature and character in the use of our material goods and in our lives and service. May we all be rich toward God and trust that He knows and He cares so much for our eternal welfare.
As we close, I will plead with you to be wise with what God has blessed you with. Weather it be a lot or a little, know that it all comes from God. And for heaven’s sake, when that excellent salesman comes to sell you his bag of goods, as what happened to me with that Rainbow vacuum cleaner or World-Book Encyclopedia, just pause, pray, and maybe call on your church family to help you make wise decisions. God gave you this church family to help you along your path and navigate this thing called life. Let’s make good use of that.
[Alter Call & Prayer] – Please Stand..