by Brother Wade Paschal
“And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
I tried to teach my children the value of delayed satisfaction—that if they did not immediately spend their allowance or the “wages” they earned from little tasks around the house, they could save and with a little patience do something bigger and better with their money later.
Planning, saving, and building to create something that will provide more in the future—we should celebrate these values.
Until having and hoarding become ends in themselves.
The rich fool made a soul-killing assumption: he assumed he created his wealth all on his own and that he could keep it for himself.
You can’t miss the main words in the parable. The rich man says, “I” six times and “my” five times and ends up talking to his own soul as if he controlled it.
Whatever we have is always at least in part a gift. I am not denying hard-work, creativity and persistence don’t play a big part in what we have. But the parable tells us “the land of a rich man produced plentifully.” The rich made the land work well, but he did not create the land. And almost certainly the man’s wealth needed the labor and skill of servants and workers.
Most of all, the man forgot that the moment he dies whatever he has will no longer belong to him. The man will not control the moment of his death which means he does not really “own” anything permanently.
I don’t think Jesus looks down on bigger barns and plentiful harvests. But he recognizes the traps wealth lays for our souls. Wealth tempts us to focus on what we get, to take credit for what is only in part our achievement, to keep wanting more and more and trusting our possessions for our future.
Thankfulness is God’s antidote for greed. Being thankful helps us to focus on what we have now. Thankfulness brings joy into the present. Thankfulness helps us realize what we have been given as well as what we have worked to make happen.
The kingdom of heaven is not about bigger barns, but bigger Christ-filled hearts.