In Luke 12, as Jesus speaks to “an innumerable multitude of people” (v. 1, NKJ), he issues solemn warnings and teaches important spiritual truths. Then one from the crowd says to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (v. 13). This has nothing to do with what the Lord had been talking about and is a selfish, materialistic, trivial request. Jesus seems a bit irritated as he responds, “Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” (v. 14). One day all will stand before his judgment seat, but here the Lord refuses to get caught up in worldly affairs, so he looks beyond this self-centered individual and again addresses the crowd: “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (v. 15). This, then, prompts him to share a parable.
“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?’” (vv. 16b-17). Beyond talking to himself, he could have thanked God for his abundant blessings. He could have offered the first of his increase to the Lord. He could have donated the excess to the poor. But apparently he was too self-absorbed to think this way.
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 goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry’” (vv. 18-19). The problem here is not that he was preparing for the future, but he seems to have had no consideration for God or for anyone other than himself.
“But God said to him, ‘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” (vv. 20-21). This man, despite his great wealth, was impoverished toward God because he was earthly focused, selfish, and spiritually unprepared.
What are my priorities? Am I earthly focused? The Bible says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:2). Am I selfish? The Bible says, “[love] does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:5b). Am I spiritually unprepared? The Bible says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2b).
--Kevin L. Moore
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Image credit: Rembrandt (1627) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_-_Parable_of_the_Rich_Man_-_WGA19247.jpg