The Parable of the Rich Fool13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man,who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying,“The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Rich Fool
Accompanying Matt Chandler sermon: Bigger Barns
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: The Parable of the Rich Fool
Does this seem a little random to you, Jesus dealing with greed in the context of the previous passage about hypocrisy and the fear of man? It did to me.
But MacArthur points out something interesting.....
Yeah, not as random as it first appears, is it?
So, on to this passage specifically. And this is a pretty touchy topic for most of us Americans/Canadians I think.
Driscoll has pointed out in several of his sermons that I've read the fact that they are four categories in regards to riches and wealth. There are unrighteous poor people, there are righteous poor people, there are unrighteous rich people, and there are righteous rich people.
Being rich or poor does not make you righteous of unrighteous. It's why you are rich or poor, and what you do with the money you have, and your attitude towards it that's important.
The first thing Jesus deals with is contentment. There are really only two options - either you are content with what you have, or you are coveting what others have.
What is coveting? Coveting is not just the having of possessions. It is the loving of possessions, which results in the hoarding of possessions. Loving meaning you can’t stop thinking about it. You can’t live without it. You absolutely have to have it. And even if you don’t have the money, you’re still going to go get it. We call that debt.....and now you are indebted to the credit company because the borrower is slave to the lender. That’s the trick of coveting. Coveting ends in slavery. Someone owns your dollars, someone owns your days because you worship someone or something other than God.
So coveting is a horrendous sin, but we don’t believe this. We do not believe this because we call it advertising. We don’t use the word coveting. We use the word advertising or PR or marketing. The whole point of advertising is to get you to covet, to get you to be discontented because you either have contentment or covetousness. If you’re content, you’re glad for what you have. If somebody else has something, you’re glad for them, but you don’t have to have it. You’re not jealous about it. You’re not obsessing over it. You’re not going into debt to keep up with them. You’re okay with it. But if you’re coveting, everything changes.
Advertising exists to create in you a sense of discontentedness. Things you didn’t even know you needed. And the truth is you don’t really need them....See, Americans don’t see coveting as a sin, but it is. It’s actually one of the Ten Commandments. God wrote a list, Ten Commandments. Number ten, no coveting. It actually made the list. Here’s how he says it, God does, in Exodus 20:17, the tenth commandment, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, or covet your neighbor’s wife, or his servant, his male servant, his female servant, his ox.” All right, that would be his tools, his truck. “His donkey,” that would be his car, his Jeep, “or anything that is your neighbor’s,” including his TV, the huge one you can see when you’re walking your dog and you look through the window and you see the big TV and you stop to covet. ..
Jesus says guard your heart against coveting. It’s a real problem. And the way you guard your heart against coveting is you worship God. Because, see, coveting is the worship of an idol. An idol can be some created thing that you love too much or you long for too much or you lust after too much. And so the way we combat coveting is through worshiping. That’s why the first two of the Ten Commandments are number one, there’s only one God. Number two, you worship him alone. And if you worship God alone, you won’t break the rest of the commandments, Martin Luther says. You won’t murder somebody. You won’t commit adultery. You won’t lie and you won’t steal and you won’t covet. Because if you’re worshiping God, you’ll be content with your spouse. You’ll be content with your house. You’ll be content with all that God has given you and you won’t be coveting. You won’t be sinning. You’ll be worshiping.
Sometimes the idol is money itself, but sometimes the idol is deeper than that and it's what the money represents - status, security or comfort.
Are you content or are you coveting?
Are you worshiping God or your money?
Next, how do you handle the finances you do have? Foolishly or faithfully?
The man in the parable handles his money foolishly. As far as we can tell, he earned his money honestly. The problem was how he handled it.
he decides, “I’m going to build more barns to hold more grain and more goods,” meaning all my money and all my possessions. What does God call him? A fool. This is the only express text in the Bible that deals with the issue of retirement. And it doesn’t do so very positively. “You fool.” Does that mean everyone who retires is a fool? No. But the driving motivation of retirement leads to a lot of trouble and it led to a lot of trouble in the last decade in this nation, where people are getting into high-risk loans and homes and flipping and trying to get rich and trying to retire.
And the whole goal is, “I don’t want to work for the rest of my life.” If you do that, you’ll fall into all kinds of trouble. It’s a trap. It’s a trap. And everybody thinks they’ll be the exception to the rule and we’ve now learned that’s not true. We’ve learned it painfully. Our goal is not to retire because even if you retire from work, you don’t retire from Christ. Okay, it’s not a sin if you make enough money that someday you don’t have to get up and go to work every day. But that doesn’t mean that your whole goal is to just eat and drink and play shuffleboard and wear flip-flops and live somewhere where the sun shines and you hang out with a bunch of other people who wear, you know, therapeutic cream for their aching joints and talk about their most recent surgery while sipping drinks with umbrellas in them, right? That’s not the goal of life.
The American dream, he says, is foolish. And this is this perennial crisis we’re having in the church where Christians just want to retire and go to somewhere sunny. They don’t want to invest in their kids, their grandkids, their church. They don’t want to lead a community group. They don’t want to teach or train anyone in anything. The whole point is, “I just want to sit around and pretend like I’m in heaven already, find an idyllic, perfect place where the sun always shines, and pay somebody to rub my back.” And Jesus says, “That’s a dumb idea.” That’s a dumb idea.
Driscoll doesn't pull any punches does he?
When we hear the story about the rich fool, what invariably happens is we think, “Yes, rich people, we don’t like them.” You, friends, are the rich. You’re the rich......You have a toilet. All right, you already have a throne, literally a throne in your home you sit on like a king and a queen. And just with one magic lever, everything unpleasant departs from you......you have central heating, you have electricity, you have a bed to sleep......We have refrigerators. Why? We have more food than we know what to do with, so we have cupboards and we have a refrigerator. Most people in the world, that’s not the case.....
He ends with a really great prayer.....
Father God, I pray for us that we would be rich toward you spiritually, having faith in the Lord Jesus, who is our ransom and pays our debt, that we would be rich toward you, Lord God, financially, that we would not be concerned about being rich or poor, but instead about being righteous and unrighteous. God, for those who are rich, I pray that they would be generous. For those who are poor, I pray that they would be generous. And God, I pray for those who are poor, that as they are generous, one day you could trust them with riches, not so that they could be rich, but so that they could be good worshipers and great stewards, that they could generously do more to help the poor, that they could fund the work of the gospel and the planting of churches. God, we share in your joy as we give, so please bless our offering and please bless our ensuing decision-making as we have some big decisions to make as to whether or not we will worship wealth or worship with our wealth in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Would we spend our money differently if we wrote Luke 12:21 on our wallets?
Monday's scripture focus: Luke 12:22-34
Sunday's passage: Isaiah 3-4
Monday's passage: Isaiah 5-6, Proverbs 4, Philippians 1