And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
“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?’
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
|Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt, 1627|
And this is exactly what Jesus is warning about in this parable. You can never save enough or amass enough wealth to secure a safety net for your soul. Yes, money allows you to make your life "comfortable"; enjoying all the world has to offer and never worry about having enough to pay the bills. But at the end of your life, it is not your possessions, or how high your stack of money rises, that will be taken into account. Your money has no eternal value. It offers no service to God.
And that is the essence of the lesson we are to learn from this parable. It ties in to Jesus's comments in a previous chapter of Luke. He is trying to make the disciples understand that storing up "treasures on earth" is an exercise in futility. People mistakenly find their security (and I contend, their identity) in how much money they can store up. But Jesus points out that money, whether paper or gold, can be destroyed or stolen. Instead, He admonishes, one should seek the "treasures of heaven"; the riches that come from knowing your security lies in your salvation, not your wealth.
I think that's why there are so many parables about wealth in the Bible. Don't forget, there is the Parable of the Rich Ruler, the Parable of the Rich, Young Man, and the Parable of the Ten Minas. Jesus knew that the accumulation of wealth would be a stumbling block to belief in something greater than ourselves. He knew that focusing on your fortune would be a powerful distraction from hearing His message. Mankind would fall for the false safety, freedom, stability and happiness that they think money affords.
That is why Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." He's saying, "You may be poor by this world's standards, having only the spirit of a child of God; but you are rich because you have a distinctive spiritual joy that is internal and eternal; it is not of this world. You correctly perceive that what I, Jesus, have to offer is more precious and worthy of your endeavors."
So, I will continue to pray for our friends, hoping that our joy in our humble means will somehow cause them to search for the reason we see ourselves as rich beyond measure. I want them to know that we look beyond this short existence on earth, and look forward to claiming our rewards in heaven. It is there that our treasure is stored.