He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ Luke 12:17-19
While reading in the book of Luke, chapter 12, I came to this parable about the “rich fool”. I was struck by the harsh and immediate judgment this character got. He was admiring his latest abundant crop, and he was thinking about how he could use this as a nest egg so that he could just kick back and enjoy life.
The point of this parable was not that it is wrong to save up for the days when we are not able to earn enough to live on. Saving money is always a good idea I think. But this fellow seems to embody a person whose first and only thought is for themselves and their own well-being.
The parable was given in response to someone who had pleaded with Jesus to judge a brother who would not share his inheritance. Jesus took the opportunity to say that he was not going to judge in that particular case, but he used it as a jumping off point to illustrate the problem of greed.
Our rich farmer in the parable had wealth, and he was going to be getting even more when his bumper crop came in. His first and only thought was about serving himself, building bigger barns, and taking it easy the rest of his life. Little did he know that such thinking was the last earthly planning he would be doing!
In the times that Jesus walked the earth, there were some very wealthy folks, but mostly there were people who were barely scraping by. The listeners to this parable must have been thinking about their own situation, and how greed begets greed. They may even have been rooting for the rich man to “get what he deserves”.
Yet this parable is for all, both rich and poor. Generosity is more a state of mind than a function of giving large amounts of money. If that rich man’s first thought had been to consider how he could alleviate the suffering of another person with his wealth, I’m fairly certain that he would not have been the teaching example of the parable. It would not have mattered how much he chose to give to help, it was just the idea of needing to think about how he could be a good steward of such wealth. Jesus was commenting, I believe, on this man’s failed state of mind- of hoarding more for himself than considering the needs of others.
Prayer: Lord, you expect us to be good stewards of all we have been given. Thank you for that way of looking at life, Amen