Grace For The Journey
We are studying today a parable recorded only in Luke’s Gospel. While it is found only in Luke it is a very well-known parable. Probably most of us have heard of what has come to be known as “The Parable of the Rich Fool.” It is one of our Lord’s parables on the matter of possessions. Did you know that Jesus talks more about money than He does about faith, heaven, hell, or prayer? Did you know that about one out of every ten verses in the New Testament talks about money or possessions? Why do you think that is? Could it be that the things that concerned people 2,000 years ago are the same things that concern us today? Jesus never provided a title for this parable. The man was a fool because while he was very wealthy, he had laid up treasure for himself; he was poor toward God and so he died spiritually bankrupt, he died lost. He had lived for this world only, a temporary world – not unlike many of us are tempted to live. We may even title the parable “Living Large in Temporary Housing,” but this parable is not for the rich only.
Jesus says in verse 15, “Beware of covetousness.” Jesus is referring to the 10th Commandment. The original Greek actually says, “Beware of all covetousness,” or “all kinds,” or “every kind of covetousness.” Covetousness takes many forms and strikes all kinds of people. You can resent the prosperity of your neighbor. You can be rich or poor and covet another person’s job, family, or popularity. You can covet another person’s stuff, joy, health, vacation, fitness, or even another person’s role in the church. Yet, I do not think I have ever had anyone come up to me and say, “You know, pastor, I continually struggle with coveting. What should I do?!”
In Colossians 3:5, the Bible refers to coveting as idolatry, ““Put to death … covetousness, which is idolatry.” Why does God call covetousness idolatry? Because when we covet, we worship stuff and stuff is not God. When we covet we commit idolatry. It is interesting to note the context here. Remember from that the opening verses of chapter 12 Jesus has been talking about a number of things, including the providence of God. He has been teaching that God cares more for His children than He does the tiny sparrows. He will give you what you need and He will give you the very words to say if you are every arrested for your Christian faith. There is this guy in the crowd who hears this, and we are told in verse 13 that he interrupts Jesus’ teaching, “Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’” It is as though this guy has not even been listening to what Jesus is saying.
Those of you who teach know what this is like, whether you are preaching or teaching the Word, or teaching in some other context. You can pour your heart out in the proclamation of the Gospel and someone will come up afterwards and say, “Well, what do you think about the ball game tonight?” It happened to Jesus. He has been preaching about confessing Him before others and standing fast for the Gospel and this guy apparently pushes his way up to the front and bellows, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
The Bible says in Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” It seems all this guy has been thinking about is wealth. Jesus has been preaching about commitment and this man in the crowd can think only of cash. He interrupts Jesus, so Jesus takes this occasion to teach about wealth and possessions.
His first point is . . .
I. Do Not Be Driven By Wealth – Verses 14-15.
Verses 14 and 15 says, “But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you? And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’” I wonder if others were embarrassed by this man’s statement. The man’s words suggest that he was a man driven by wealth. He was so obsessed with these things that he was not even listening to Jesus’ sermon. Rather, he looks for a moment of silence so that he can make his selfish demand. He was driven by wealth, obsessed with possessions, and constantly thinking of material things. The man’s father left an inheritance and this man could not get his mind off of it. He wanted his share and he wanted it now.
Pastors and lawyers both can share stories of seeing the division of an inheritance divide a family. Here are brothers and sisters ostensibly close to one another, but when the mother or father passes away, there is squabbling and fighting and division. Why? Because of covetousness and the error of thinking one’s life consists in the abundance of things he possesses. Jesus says in the latter part of verse 15, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Is that true? Do our lives reflect that truth? Do our jobs reflect that life is not really about wealth and possessions? Do our desires for promotion, worldly success, and our “power lunches” reflect that our lives do not consist in the abundance of the things we possess? Or is the opposite true? Jesus wants us to understand that real joy does not come from the abundance of things.
Someone has said, “When we are willing to part with heavenly blessings in order to obtain earthly ones it shows us something about the desires of our hearts.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
Do not be driven by wealth.
Number two . . .
II. Do Not Be Deceived By Wealth – Verses 16-19.
Jesus illustrates that one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. In verses 16 to 19 He illustrates this truth by telling a story, “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: ‘The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. ‘And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’”
This man was deceived by his money and possessions. His first problem was that he thought it was he who had acquired all of this stuff. In verses 17 to 19, the man uses the personal pronoun referring to himself no less than eleven times! He thought this stuff was his! But Jesus says in verse 16, “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.” It does not say that the man created his wealth. His wealth was given to him by God who caused the man’s ground to yield plentifully. To quote Job again, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”
Do not be deceived by wealth. Whatever you have comes from God. He is the owner of everything we have. We are merely managers of what He gives. That is why God says in Malachi chapter 3, verses 8 to 9, “Will a man rob God? You have robbed Me in tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me.”” That is God’s way of saying, “Don’t be deceived. You did not create this wealth you have. I have given it to you and therefore I expect you to return to me the first portion of it, the first ten percent. That is what a tithe is. It is the first 10% of whatever comes into our possession.
God says in Malachi 3:10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse.” In the Old Testament, the storehouse was the temple. In the New Testament, the storehouse is the church. “Bring all the tithes – the first 10% of everything that comes into your possession – bring it into the storehouse.” God says if we fail to do this, we are guilty of robbing God because the tithe belongs to Him. That is why the Bible does not say, “Give” the tithe. You don’t “give” it. It belongs to God. You “bring” it. You “return” it to Him. God goes so far to say that if we fail to return to God what is His, we are “cursed with a curse.” Why? Because we have robbed God of what is rightfully His. Tithing is a way of acknowledging God owns it all.
God has given us everything we have. Everything we have belongs to Him; 100%. We are just managing it. God says, “Bring Me the first 10% of what you receive.” That is the minimum we are to bring back to God. Malachi teaches if we decide not to bring the 10% back to God, then the 100% is cursed. But if we bring the 10% to Him, the 90% we keep is blessed. You choose to live either with 90% of your income blessed or 100% of your income cursed; something to think about.
The man in this parable is deceived by his wealth. Not only did he think his stuff was his own, but he lives as though he and his stuff are going to last forever. When he runs out of room to store his stuff, he builds his investment portfolio by building bigger barns to store all of his possessions. He says in verse 19, “I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’” He is deceived. He thinks he is going to be around a long, long, time.
This man failed to realize that not only did God own the man’s stuff, but God also owned the man’s soul. And this leads to the final point of application. Do not be driven by wealth or deceived by wealth.
Thirdly . . .
III. Do Not Be Destroyed By Wealth – Verses 20-21.
You can protect and multiply your investments, but you cannot protect and lengthen your life. This man thought he had many years left. He just kept storing up his goods, hoarding all his wealth, planning to live the easy life for many years. He was “living large,” but he failed to understand that he was living large in “temporary housing.”
Verses 20 and 21 say, “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” That word “required” is a commercial term, a banking term. It means “to call in a loan.” Even our lives are “on loan” from God. He is the owner of our stuff and He is the owner of our souls.
This man laid up treasure for himself, but he was “not rich toward God.” Consequently . . .
He let money drive him,
He let money deceive him,
And, one night when God
Called in the loan of this
Man’s soul, we see that
His money destroy him.
For this reason God calls him a “fool.”
So many prepare for all contingencies of life but ignored life’s only inevitability. People talk about their successes and their contributions. One day they will die and will be buried. Over their grave they put a large stone. On that stone is a word from the Bible, something from the poets, and a statement that he was noble, successful, visionary, and progressive. Then the crowd goes home. The angel of God walked through that cemetery, and over each tombstone he wrote one solitary word: FOOL.
Here’s a simple question. Silently answer it with honesty: What are you living for? Are you living for stuff, possessions, a life of ease? Are you caught up with the accumulation of material things – money, cars, jewelry, boats, vacations – is that what drives you? Are you guilty of laying up treasures for yourself but you are not rich toward God? If so, talk to God this morning right where you are. Just be honest with Him. Ask for His forgiveness. Take a moment and do that.
Here’s another question. Do you tithe? Do you regularly bring back to God the very best, the first 10% of what He has given you? If not, talk to God now. Tell Him you are sorry for robbing Him of what is His. Tell Him you would rather live on 90% blessed than 100% cursed. Tell Him you will begin tithing next week.
God gave His very best to us. John 3:16 tells us that God so loved us that He gave. He gave His very best. He gave to us the precious Lord Jesus Christ. Some of you have never received God’s best as your personal Lord and Savior. You’ve not received Jesus Christ into your life. This morning, come to Jesus and be saved.
This is God’s Word …
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”