[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 , “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
God calls him a fool [aphron] – foolish, ignorant, devoid of sense, without sound mind or reason. This man is one who rejects the principles of God, the knowledge and wisdom of the Creator and what He determines is the basis for life as He purposed it. He did not give a thought to the fact that all these material blessings are all from God’s hand. He also didn’t realise he had an obligation to God to use his possessions in a way that glorified and served the One who gave them to him.
This parable is full of contrasts. Not the least of which is God’s comment “This very night your soul is required of you.” This very night is contrasted with many years to come. Such a different perspective. We might think we have many years to live life on our terms but God says “this very night“. This is a highly emphatic statement filled with heavy irony. No, not years, but hours. Tonight your soul will be taken back from you. God says I will take your “life component” back. Batteries not included. Not only not included, but removed by God – just when things were shaping up so well.
“Your soul is required of you”: your very life essence, the breath of life, your living soul is being taken back. You must hand it back. You must give it up, surrender it. It is being taken away from you. It is not yours to keep. It is not your possession. It is on loan to you. The word for required [apaiteo] shows us that the breath of life is a loan from God. The word is used in Greek as a financial term for the return or repayment of a loan. The owner wants to redeem the goods that are on loan for you to use as long as he deems appropriate. Now, this very night; He is taking it back. The man considered his soul among his possessions but he was so wrong. The literal text says: “They will demand or come to repossess your soul.” Who is “they”? Some see this as the death angel. Others see the trinity (the Three involved in Let’s Us make man in Our image). But whatever is meant behind the scenes, one thing is true. Your life will be taken tonight. Your time is up. God is taking back the soul He has loaned you. Ouch.
So now what is going to happen to all you have prepared? What will happen to all these extra resources you have faithfully stored at great expense so you would live the good life? All these things you saved up foryourfuture. All these barns you built to be able to “keep the stuff for yourself”. It’s all such a waste isn’t it? Who will own these things you have stockpiled in your new barns for your future? Is it that the rich fool has no family? We are not told that. No, I think what Jesus is doing is bringing the story back full circle to the point where we came in. There are two brothers who are disputing the family fortune and what to do with it. I suspect one wants to keep the family estate together. Whereas the other one, who approached Jesus, wants his share now and wants to split (leave with his money). In order to do that he was ready to split up the family estate. I suspect Jesus is dangling this in front of the man who asked for Jesus help to say, who will get your fortune? Will your family be in dispute over your estate just like you are now?
It is like Jesus is saying, “Man, in like manner you are trying to store up treasure for yourself, like the rich fool in the parable I have told you about. Learn the lesson. Don’t seek to horde money and possessions. Do the things that make you rich toward God. To be rich toward God is to have been storing up treasures in heaven. Using your money in ways that please God. “He who gives to the poor lends to the Lord.” Prov 19:17 (See also Gems 563, 564). You have to find ways of storing up treasures in heaven. You will see I have made comments about that in the two Gems I referred to you. Most of us don’t realise we have bank accounts in two places: here on earth and in heaven. You have to find ways of using your money in order to make deposits into your heavenly bank account. You do that by sharing your money while you are on earth rather than storing your treasure for yourself. You will please God even more if you share it with those who can’t pay you back. Many times even in our giving or in our sharing our money we do it to “curry favour”. We have an agenda in the act of sharing, planning that it will reap a benefit for us at some future point. I remember meeting one man who reacted to my suggestion of giving his money to someone who could never return the money in kind. He was adamant that he would never do that. He was a business man and always looked to leverage his advantage. That is not the way of God.
If we don’t guard against every form of greed then we may well find ourselves locked in to a mind set that won’t let us free. We may get upset when we don’t see any “return on our investment” in this life. If you even think in those terms then you have lost it already. Give generously, outrageously and see what happens. Every time Tania and I have done that amazing things happen. It is a principle in God, a fixed law of His creation. Adopt the mindset that you are a steward of the resources God has given to you. It will revolutionize the way you see things and will radically change the response you will be willing to give when you hear of need. Don’t build bigger barns! Seek rather to be a channel of blessing. You never know where it will lead you. I believe it led us to Indonesia to work in a hugely exciting field: people and the Word of God. It all started I believe with us being open handed with the resources God gave us. You can read that story in Gem 253 or 559. You will be amazed at the doors that will open for you. But don’t do it to “get”, that defeats the purpose. Do it to give and be a channel of blessing to others for the glory of God. Suddenly you will find yourself rich in the God-things.
You can’t see the balance in your heavenly bank account yet but keep sowing into the life of the age to come.Ian Vail
YOU CANNOT OUTGIVE GOD! We have lost the giving game for the last 40 years. It is not a cliché, it is true.Ian Vail
The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.Thomas Merton
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.Mahatma Gandhi
Do your giving while living!Anon