Read Luke 12: 15-21
Background: Jesus is giving warnings and encouragements to his followers and right in the middle of things somebody in the crowd interrupts with a very self-centered financial statement, a command really. Go back and read verses 13 and 14.
Did you know that Jesus had more to say about material possessions than any other subject? Almost half of the parables that he tells deal with possessions. Something like 15% of the verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke discuss the handling of material goods properly. Now just imagine being so greedy, so at odds with your brother, that you would interrupt Jesus – and he’s talking just to his disciples at that moment, with a crowd of thousands surrounding them – and ask him to help you get more money. Amazing! But so like us today. Do you think this man’s brother is older or younger? I think he’s older since the custom at that time meant the older brother would get double the portion and our greedy guy wants him to divide the inheritance so he’d get half instead of a third.
Jesus’ response shows us that the brother is present (plural you). His answer also sounds a bit peeved:
“Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”
Jesus will judge at the second coming, but not now. Nevertheless, he does respond at length to the greed and covetousness that this man expresses.
What’s his response? It’s advice: watch out, be on guard against greed. This is interesting because in the parable of the talents Jesus told us to invest our money, earn interest, but the caution here is to not be greedy.
He continues with the parable of the Rich Fool. We find out that a certain rich man has a good crop – that doesn't sound like a problem to me. What is his problem? Oh, he has nowhere to store the crops from this really great harvest. So he makes a plan to build bigger barns. Is there anything wrong with that plan? I don’t think so. Seems like a good plan. What am I missing?
In verse 19 we have the rich guy saying to himself “I’ll have it made. I can just eat, drink, and be merry.” Again, what’s wrong with that?
But then, look at what happens in verse 20:
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’”
Do you get what this guy did wrong? Because it wasn't wrong to be successful and build bigger barns. Well, we find out in verse 21:
“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”
There’s nothing wrong with storing up things for yourself as long as you are also rich toward God. This fool wasn't worshipful. He needed to praise God, worship Him, read the Scriptures, tell others about Him, and pray, but he hadn't been doing that.
Do you need the "moral to the story"? Here it is: You never know when you'll die. Be ready. Get right with God right now.