[Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.]
And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: 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 many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”‘
“But God said to him,’You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”Luke 12:15-21
There is so much to comment on here I don’t know where to start. Well, that’s not true. I know just where to start, start at the beginning and work my way through methodically. I guess what I am saying is I don’t know how long this Gem will become. I will just write until I think it is enough for one gem. Notice I prefaced this parable with the verse I introduced yesterday as the launching pad for the parable. So bring those thoughts into your analysis of the parable itself. I have emboldened parts that certainly require thought and comment.
Luke starts this section with “And”. It seems so ordinary but it links this parable firmly with the verse before it and with the man’s attempt to coerce Jesus involvement. The same “them” are involved as were involved in verse 15. Again up to you as to who you think it is: the brothers, disciples or the crowd.
Notice it was the land of the rich man that brought forth abundance. The man seems to think he is responsible for his wealth. But no, it is not true. It was the land that was productive. How did the land get productive? By God’s hand of course. By the blessing of fertile soils, the warmth of the sun and abundant rainfall. All blessings of God and nothing to do with him. There is nothing we have that didn’t ultimately come from Him. The sense of this man’s riches come from his land, his estate, his property, nowhere else. All things given him by God (and by his family). And here the first man wants to ditch his family. Crazy man.
When he sits down and contemplates his situation and his problem he totally misses the problem he faces. He thinks it is all about not having enough space for his stuff. But that is not his problem at all. He misreads all the signs. He thinks he knows reality; after all he is a successful man isn’t he? No he is so sadly out of touch with reality that much of this parable contrasts his unreality with real reality. The same is therefore true of the man who wanted Jesus intervention in his family affairs. It is remarkable how egotistical he is. Note that in a few short verses (3 to be exact) he refers to himself 15 times. Talk about “me, myself and I”. He is so self-centered it is not funny. I have coloured all those references in red above and emboldened them. And yes I know it might be confusing because I have coloured some “you” in red. But if you look carefully you will see he is actually referring to himself with the use of “you” in those instances.
This segment is very Epicurean: in that it follows the philosophy of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher (341-270 bc), who believed that the highest good is pleasure, especially fine food and drink. The Epicureans were devoted to sensuality and hedonism. I am not saying this man and his like were Epicureans (Epicurus hadn’t appeared on the scene at this stage). But it is all the same mentality. Not only that but his view of his soul is indeed soulish and not spirit led. He doesn’t realize that part of him is on loan from God. He figures he is total control of himself, inner and outer. He thinks his total needs can be met by material things and pleasures he can enjoy. There is irony here that he addresses his soul as himself. But the text here contains an ambiguous sense of soul or [psuche]. The connection here is to Gen 2:7 which I quoted yesterday. God’s infusion of breathe resulted in man becoming a “living soul” or [nephesh]. You have a God-given part of you which is on loan. It is what distinguishes you from the animals.
He wrongly assumes he has many years still. “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years.” He looks forward to many years of plenty to spend on himself in selfish hedonistic pleasure.
“Take your ease” – ‘sit back’, better yet ‘lie back’ and enjoy the good life. Take things easy and spend all your wealth to pamper yourself. Eat, drink and be merry. This is the soulish trinity of the hedonist. These three concepts have been found together in Greek language and also in English down through the centuries. They are combined to symbolise the ultimate in carefree, abandoned, luxurious living focused on the pleasures of the flesh. This man is selfishly considering spending all his wealth on himself. He figures that if he expands his barns and stores all his wealth in them, not just the grain, then he can live as he pleases until he dies. He doesn’t give a thought to others. His thought is not to provide for others in famine or to share his wealth. He has no concern for God either. God just does not factor into this man’s equation of what life should be. The fool. God calls him that not me. I am simply repeating what God said of him. Now we enter the part of the parable when God has something to say about all this. So because this Gem is already long enough I will save God’s summation on the matter until the next Gem.
The person in charge is not one with money or power, but the one with an advocate in the highest place!Anon
When you cannot get the things you like, why not try to like the things you’ve already got?Sidney Mohede
If I should die with more than 10 pounds wealth, may every man call me a liar & a thief.Charles Wesley
You share with them when you have abundance, and they have need. Later, when they have abundance and you are in need, they can share with you.2 Corinthians 8:14
Don’t spend all your wealth on yourself never giving a thought to others needs. Do you dare to put aside your agenda and let the above principle work through you?Ian Vail