Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man
yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do,
since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will
pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and
my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many good laid up for
many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him,
‘You fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those
things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself,
and is not rich toward God. Lk. 12:16-21
Let’s not criticize the man in the story for his success. Success is not a sin
(if achieved righteously). Each of us should be faithful stewards of what God
allows us to use, taking responsibility while we are here on the earth,
striving for excellence in everything that is right. If we apply ourselves
with the energy God supplies and the circumstances are favorable, there may be
some success for us in life and that’s great. In the phrase, “the ground of a
certain rich man yielded plentifully,” there is nothing to prompt any
Further, the thought described in verse 17 should not be criticized. “And he
thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to
store my crops’?” When you enjoy some success or have a plentiful harvest
there should be good thinking. You should think about what you need to do. One
of the highest kinds of business practices is simply thinking! Thoughtlessness
is never to be commended.
So given what Jesus says about this rich man so far – nothing wrong! It is not
wrong to succeed. It is not wrong to think. No problem with having a good
crop; no problem with thinking about and planning what to do.
Let me add another non-issue: Building Barns and Storing Your Surplus; still
no problem! There is nothing inherent regarding building and storage that is
morally or spiritually flawed. For instance, if you make more money this year
and you think about it, and decide to put that money into some CD’s or a
Savings Account – you have not necessarily done anything wrong. To make more.
To have more. To save more. These things are not moral or spiritual flaws.
So what is the problem. We begin to realize the issue as we move into verse
19: “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many
years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry’.”
Look at two things: One is the decidedly self-centeredness of this – “I will
say to my soul . . . “ etc. He talks to himself about himself and claims full
ownership and power over what he has. A related issue is his use of what he
has is all about his own pleasure! So verse 19 gets us to our focus, to the
point of concentration that will help us get the point of the parable. Here is
a man who was successful - no problem with that. He was thoughtful - no
problem with that. He safely stored his excess - no problem with that.
But he has this focus on himself. And his plans about his resources are
self-centered. His attitude is: I will just take it easy . . . I will eat,
drink and be merry. There is no thought or mention of serving God, or helping
people. It’s all about him!
That God owns everything we have… that we are temporary stewards of what God
let’s us use . . . that we have obligations of heart that involve our friends,
family and neighbors . . . These vital things were not accounted for by this
man and his plans for his windfall profits. So God addressed this man’s
Verse 20: “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This night your soul will be
required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided’?”
According to Jesus Christ, it is foolish to think only of ourselves. It is not
foolish to be successful. It is not foolish to have a good, thoughtful plan
for storage. It is not foolish to retire.
According to Jesus, it is foolish to think only of ourselves. To think we own
what we have, and we have obligations to no one but self is tragically flawed
thinking and living. To use all we have on our pleasure is foolish. Or, if we
think that that our material holdings prolong life – that’s foolish thinking
God made a point of this man’s case by requiring his soul of him. He would
die. And that means whatever permanent ownership he perceived he had, he would
have it no more. “Then whose will those things be, which you have provided?”
Here’s the foolishness: You work hard to gain stuff. You have more than you
need. You think only of yourself. Then you die, and have nothing.
Spurgeon: He is a fool … He puts the body before the soul, he hopes to find
ease on the thorny bed of wealth, and makes sure of a long life in a dying
world. O Lord, keep all of us from being so foolish.
Jesus wants to be certain we get this, so He says: “So is he who lays up
treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” The two operative words:
“for himself.” This parable answers a popular, common mind-set . . . that
talks like this:
I work for myself.
What I have is mine.
You get your own stuff. . . this is mine.
And as this attitude is explored deeper you discover, at the core, thoughts
that exclude God; thoughts so centered in self, in self-ambition and
self-enjoyment, God is ruled out!!
What’s happening is, this kind of person is laying up treasure for himself,
“and is not rich toward God.” To be rich toward God means – whatever you have,
or do not have . . . you do have God in your life, with all the attending
blessings of fellowship with Him, through Jesus Christ. Whether you have
worldly success or financial ease or not – you can be rich toward God, because
of your response to the cross of Christ.
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 15.9; September 2008