By Pastor Jerry Donovan
Jesus’ parable of the “rich fool,” suggests that anything that replaces God as a person’s primary concern enters the hallway of idolatry. In this parable the barns of that time symbolize today’s money in Luke 12:13-21.
A man in a crowd of thousands of people asks Jesus to tell his brother to divide his family’s estate with him. Jesus first asks him, who made me a judge over your problems? He warns the man to guard against becoming greedy, because a prosperous life is not one measured by the wealth obtained in this world.
Jesus then tells a parable of a wealthy man who produced an overabundance of grain. He produced so much grain he did not have enough room to store it all. He decided to tear down his barns and storage areas and build new ones, and put all of his grain and other goods in the new facilities. He said to himself, “I will have enough stored away for many years and will not need to work. I will eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19 ESV). God calls him a fool because he was going to die that very night, and God asked who will get to enjoy all this surplus stuff you have worked so hard to create?
Our culture is increasingly worshiping the god of money. Biblical authors knew that money is a god that never satisfies. The book of Ecclesiastes says: “The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is vanity” (5:10 NRSV). The question is, “when is enough, enough?”
The rich fool’s hoarding shows a person only trusting in his own skill to supply his needs. He is ambitious, but clearly worships material comforts, “I will have enough stored away for many years and will not need to work. I will eat, drink and be merry.” God commanded all people in the first chapter of Genesis to be stewards of his creation, and the true steward trusts God and does not need to stockpile, or build bigger barns.
Greed creates an unquenchable desire for more, creating false understandings, and ultimately a false foundation for a person’s life. Pursuing and accumulating wealth can tempt us to believe several disturbing lies: the more you have the more you are worth, you earned what you have, what matters is taking care of number one, and you can secure the future with wealth.
You may disagree that these are lies, but according to the gospel, they will ruin you if you take their bait. Many have swallowed these lies, hook, line, and sinker. The lies illustrate an old saying “the best things in life are free.” Maybe most of us agree with this saying, but very few believe in it enough to live by it.
The true meaning for life is offered to us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In Jesus, God has given us all we need for today. More than that, God has also promised that when tomorrow comes, God will continue providing. When we recognize the gifts of life that God offers, we will be as rich as any of us needs to be. This is the promise of God. Our belief in his promise protects us from the lies that money and fortune will solve all our problems. The solution to our problems as well as the problems of the world, is the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. It is this love that will not let us go that we celebrate and remember today and every day of our lives.