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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE RICH FOOL

Luke 12:16-21 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 room 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 to 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 hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

I once knew a man, a fellow employee that often planned, spoke of, and looked forward to retirement. He worked diligently to save and secure the best possible retirement benefits in order to live a life of leisure. On his sixty-second birthday, he resigned his position with our company and retired. He could have taken his retirement benefit in several different ways. He could have taken a lump-sum payment on the day of his retirement. However, he knew he could receive a greater amount if it were spread over a future period of time. He could have taken it over a fixed period of time, say a five or ten year period. Again, he knew he could possibly receive more if he lived beyond these time periods. Also, he could receive a lesser monthly payment if he chose to leave a death benefit to his spouse or another designated heir. Considering all these benefit payment options, he chose to receive the greatest monthly retirement payment possible - he opted to have his payments to him only during his lifetime. After receiving only one payment, he died. There were no future benefits; in one small monthly payment, his retirement benefits had been paid in full. I think about this incident every time I read and study this parable - the parable of "The Rich Fool." Although this person truly believed that the retirement program he chose would fill his every desire, his decision ended with the worse possible result. With the exception of one month's benefit, he lost it all.

The subject parable was given by Jesus to teach a lesson on the sin of covetousness - the envious, greedy desire for things such as wealth and power. Evidently Jesus saw the covetous intention of the man that asked Him to speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me (Luke 12:13). The rich man in the parable had a bountiful crop - so much that his storage barns could not contain the harvest. He made a decision - a greedy decision. He would build larger barns so he could keep the entire crop for himself, sufficient to last for many years. He could now live a life of ease, eat, drink, and be merry. To this greedy man, God said, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? There were so many good things he could have done with his riches, yet his decision was a selfish one. He hoardedand stored his wealth for himself alone. Preceding this parable, Jesus toldthe man seeking a greater inheritance, as well as us today, that a person's life here on earth is not to be consumed with gaining worldly possessions (Vs. 15). Happiness cannot be found in wealth and power. We all know too many individuals and families that exist on a bare minimum of wealth, yet are content with what life has given them. On the other hand, we know of people that have considerable wealth, much more than necessary to sustain life, and yet, they live in misery. Notice that the rich man spoke of things he thought belonged to him - my barns, my fruits, my goods, and my soul (Vss. 18-19). Of these four, the only thing he truly owned was his soul. The other three were "on loan" from God; he was merely a steward over them during his tenure on earth. His soul, however, will spend eternity, either in heaven or hell.

Like the Rich Fool, many people today believe, in error, that worldly gain, which sustains the physical body as well as all other desires, is also good for the soul. They completely disregard the fact that an inordinate desire for wealth, the sins of covetousness, greed, and envy, will cause them to lose the only thing they really own - their souls. Notice Jesus' conclusion to the parable of the Rich Fool: So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Wealth will not cause you to lose your soul, but the desire to consume it upon one's self will. The body may feast on worldly goods, but the soul is sustained by using them for God, the cause of Christ, and in filling the spiritual and physical needs of your fellow man. Lay up treasures in heaven, for where hour treasure is, there will your heart be also (Vs. 34).