When surrounded by riches, we may think that we are ‘set for life’.
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “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. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
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?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
As I write this grow daily, the Christmas season is upon us and everywhere I see the phrase, “eat, drink, and be merry” lifted out of context of today’s passage to sell various delicious but certainly calorific items with which to load the groaning dining table and stretch groaning belts.
While there is nothing wrong with the celebratory meal now and then, rich foods, and indeed any of the earth’s riches are nothing compared to the riches of the Kingdom of God.
The enquirer at the start of the passage did not have the heavenly riches in mind when coming to Jesus but was concerned with the immediate earthly inheritance that he wanted from his brother.
We can see how quickly Jesus reprimands him for this lack of vision. These matters are like petty claims before the One who will judge the earth.
He goes straight to the heart of the matter, which is greed and tells the parable of the rich man, who wants to stockpile his harvests, tear down his barns, build bigger barns, stuff them full of grain, and then sit back and take things easy. He thinks his future is in his hands and that his riches will get him through. However, when eternity knocks on his door, what has he to take with him? Nothing.
While there is wisdom in setting a bit aside for the future and being good stewards of the earthly things that we have, there is nothing but greed in wanting to hoard things for ourselves to benefit just ourselves.
A selfish heart does not seek after things of the Lord and therefore is not rich towards God. If we save the best and fattest for ourselves, what sacrifice do we bring to the One who holds our eternal destiny in His hands? Nothing. We come into the world with nothing, and we can take nothing with us, except that which Christ has set aside for us in the Father’s house. As we live the life that we have, let us remember that all good things are from the Lord, and that a generous Christ-like heart is one that serves others, shares with others, sacrifices for others.
Next time we sit down to a beautiful meal, stop and think for a moment that instead of being so quick to take a picture of it and post it to Instagram – could we be that quick to post the message of the gospel so that others may, instead of envying our dinner, come to Jesus to eat and be filled with God’s riches.
Head: Crops and food are one kind of riches, are there any other riches that you are stockpiling and busy ‘building new barns’ for?
Heart: What treasures can you build up in your heart that are towards God and towards others?
Hands: If your life was demanded today, who would get what you have prepared for yourself? Are there riches in your life you can share today to bless others?
Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus for bringing the riches of your presence into this world and into my heart. You did not stockpile things but spread out your hands that they may be pierced. May I share that sacrificial love and put aside greed. Amen.
A song to listen to: When I Survey