And he said unto them, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and He thought within himself saying, What shall I do, because I have no where to bestow my fruits? And he said, this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say unto my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou has provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:15
Many years ago when our boys were small we took them fishing on a local lake. We borrowed my dad’s small bass boat for this excursion. To say the boat was crowded is an understatement. My wife, two sons, myself, along with fishing gear and bait made for cramped quarters and in retrospect was really quite comical to contemplate. I don’t recall much about our success as fishermen, but I do remember another boat we saw in passing. A sizeable houseboat slowly cruised past us that day. I observed that the large living quarters of the boat had air conditioning. I noted that the life boat on the houseboat was larger than the boat the four of us shared. I also was impressed with the two large gas grills that were on the stern of the boat. I wondered at the wealth that could provide such luxury. As the boat made its way beyond us, I was amused to read the name of the boat, “Never Satisfied” stenciled on the transom. The owner of the houseboat seems to have shared the same condition as the farmer referred to in the above passage. At least it appears that the boat owner was cognizant of the fact that the accumulation of more and more never really brought satisfaction. Maybe he knew a bit more than the farmer, but I tend to doubt it.
What is Jesus trying to get across to us in this parable? A careful reading of this story reveals that the wealthy farmer makes no less than 16 references to self. It is pretty clear that this man lived with one thought in mind, it was all about him. This is clearly one of the most self centered people revealed to us in Scripture. His every thought was what He would do with His goods. His entire focus was on one thing, His worldly possessions, until God interrupts with the question every mortal must answer, “…Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?”
First and foremost, this man had either forgotten, or had never known, that any and all wealth belongs to God, and is bestowed by God alone. Deuteronomy 8:11-14, & 17, says, “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy god, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth….”
The Apostle Paul put it this way in 1Corinthians 4:7, “For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what has thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” Even wealthy Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:15. “As he came forth of his mother’s womb, naked shall he return to go as he came, and shall take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand.” The first lesson we need to understand as Christians is that what we think we possess, is in reality on loan to us from God, and our stewardship of these gifts and resources is going to be required of us one day. The question is not how much do we have, the question is, what are we doing for God with what He has entrusted to us? Deuteronomy 10:14 says, “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.” God alone owns it all. When we lose sight of this great truth, and think only of ourselves, we are disappointing God immensely. We are also focusing on the temporary to the exclusion of the eternal.
Next, Jesus speaks of the brevity and uncertainty of life. On “this night”, God may require our soul for an accounting. Job 7:6-8 says, “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope. O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall see no more good. The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not.” James 4: 14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Psalm 31:15 says, “My times are in thy hand…” Somebody once observed that they had never seen a hearse with a luggage rack. When the focus of our existence is upon “things”, we are not rich toward God.
This story would not be complete without considering one more verse that comes from the mouth of Jesus to the ears of men. In Mark 8:36 Jesus says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Jesus says that one day each and every one of us will have to account for his soul. You may be the wealthiest person on the face of the earth, and still be experiencing poverty of the soul that is lethal. This night your soul is required of thee assures that God alone determines when that time comes. David wrote in Psalms 31:15, “My time is in thy hand…” If your soul was required of you tonight, would you be rich toward God, or would all the wealth you have accumulated be left for others while you entered eternity destitute, and without Jesus Christ? There is not a sadder thought than that of any human being entering a Christless eternity. Do you wish to be “rich towards God?” If so, confess and repent of your sin, trust Christ’s sacrifice for your sin, and receive Him as Lord and Savior by faith. In Ephesians 3:8, Paul wrote, “…that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” The ONLY way to be rich toward God is to be found in Christ Jesus when your soul is required. That is my prayer for you this day.