A Walk through the Book of Luke
March 15, 2023
The Rich Fool
“I want more.”
Some of us are sometimes worse than others, but we all have moments in our lives when we think of embracing greed. We’ve all met someone who always needs to have the latest model car, the newest cell phone, or other toys, as I like to call them.
Several years ago, I wrote a student devotion to the same bible passage we’re looking at today. In it, I used Veruca Salt as an example of the greediest person you could ever know.
If you don’t know who Veruca is, perhaps a photo of her will jog your memory.
Yes. Veruca is the young lady from the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who wanted everything, and she wanted it Now! Here are a few lines that she sang in the film.
I want a ball
I want a party
Pink macaroons and a million balloons
And performing baboons and
Give it to me
I want the world
I want the whole world
I want to lock it all up in my pocket
It’s my bar of chocolate
Give it to me
Perhaps you have met or know a Veruca Salt in your life. If you and I reflect for a moment, maybe there’s a bit of Veruca in all of us.
In today’s parable, Jesus isn’t saying having riches is wrong. Instead, He’s talking about our attitude towards them.
At the beginning of this reading, Jesus is asked to intervene in a financial dispute between two brothers. However, instead of resolving the plea with a solution, Jesus tells a parable about greed.
“Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 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.”
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.” Luke 12:13-21
As I mentioned earlier, this parable is about greed. You’ll notice in the reading that the rich man never says anything about giving to the poor or helping others. He only speaks about how he can make his own life better and easier.
“Greed is just another word for covetousness. Covetousness is the desire to have more than one actually has, not necessarily out of envy for other people’s wealth). It not only leads to strife; it also expresses a fundamentally wrong attitude to life, according to which possessions are all that really matter.” (New Bible Commentary, 21st-century edition, Luke 12, Pp. 1001.)
God puts the greedy man in his place when He tells him that he will die that very night. Like all of us, the rich man will end up with nothing at the end of his life.
Everything we have, money, cars, our home, electronics, etc., is just stuff. It’s stuff we can’t take with us when we die. The riches we can accumulate on earth are loving and being loved by others, gaining and showing respect, serving others, helping those in need, and most of all, loving the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind.
When all is said and done, all the stuff we have isn’t ours anyway. Because we’re only borrowing it while we’re here, we can’t take it with us. So, don’t be greedy and make money and the material things in the world your priority.
Instead, make spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others the most important thing you can do.