The Man God Called A Fool-The Parable of the Rich Fool Part 1 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
Luke 12:13-12:24 (Living Bible)
13 Then someone called from the crowd, "Sir, please tell my brother to divide my father's estate with me."
14 But Jesus replied, "Man, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?
15 Beware! Don't always be wishing for what you don't have. For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are."
16 Then he gave an illustration: "A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.
17 In fact, his barns were full to overflowing--he couldn't get everything in. He thought about his problem,
18 and finally exclaimed, 'I know--I'll tear down my barns and build bigger ones! Then I'll have room enough.
19 And I'll sit back and say to myself, "Friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Wine, women, and song for you" '!
20 "But God said to him, 'Fool! Tonight you die. Then who will get it all?'
21 "Yes, every man is a fool who gets rich on earth but not in heaven."
22 Then turning to his disciples he said, "Don't worry about whether you have enough food to eat or clothes to wear.
23 For life consists of far more than food and clothes.
24 Look at the ravens--they don't plant or harvest or have barns to store away their food, and yet they get along all right--for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!
⸻Luke 12:13-24 (Living)
The man in today’s parable is declared a “fool” by God. The remarkable thing is that this person that God calls a fool, we would very often call a success. A fool in biblical language was not a description of mental ability but of spiritual discernment. The question that I would like for us to consider today is; “Why did the Lord consider this man a fool?” And perhaps, even a more sobering thought is, “Am I a fool in God’s eyes?”
Jesus is in the middle of a sermon, when he is suddenly interrupted by a man who is dissatisfied over what he considers to be an unfair division of his father’s estate between himself and his brother. I find it oddly comforting that even the Lord Jesus Christ could not keep everyone’s attention. One such man says in verse thirteen, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. Apparently, this young man is the younger of two brothers. According to Jewish law, his older brother would have been the executor of the estate and would have received the largest portion of the inheritance and usually would have tried to maintain the estate intact. This man really didn’t ask Jesus for a decision on what would be a fair division of the estate, he just demanded, “Tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me!”
Jesus did not answer as he was expected to do. In verse fourteen he says to the man, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" Jesus refuses to be sidetracked from his mission of seeking and saving the lost. Instead, Jesus does not make a legal judgment but a moral one. Jesus knew that this family feud over inheritance was only a symptom of a greater problem, greed. In fact, the “you” in verse fourteen is plural indicating that both brothers have a problem with greed. As long as both brothers are suffering from greed no settlement would be satisfactory. Jesus tells him that the most important thing is not for him to solve his inheritance problem, but that his heart must be changed. But if we are honest, “How often have we gone to God asking him to change our situation rather than asking him to change our heart?” I would dare say that most of our prayers are that God would solve a problem in our lives. Perhaps our prayer should be, “God here is my problem, please change my heart?”
Then in verse fifteen, Jesus uses the occasion as a “teachable moment” and says, “Take heed and beware of materialism, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. When he says, “take heed and beware” he is literally saying “be on guard against all kinds of greed.” The area of danger for this man was “greed” or “materialism” and it means “the lust to have more than one’s fair share, a grasping for more that is never satisfied” or
to put it another way covetousness is “wanting more of what you already have enough of!”
“How Rich We Are” From the standpoint of material wealth, Americans have difficulty realizing how rich we are. However, going through a little mental exercise… can help us to count our blessings. Imagine doing the following, and you will see how daily life is for as many as a billion people in the world:
1. Take out all the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of chairs. Use blankets and pads for beds.
2. Take away all of your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt or blouse. Leave only one pair of shoes.
3. Empty the pantry and the refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.
4. Dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.
5 Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.
6. Imagine your “house’ in a shantytown.
7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss, because now none of you can read anyway.
8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
9. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a midwife in charge instead of a doctor.
10. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, social security check, Medicare benefits, and insurance policies. Leave the family a cash hoard of ten dollars.
11. Give the head of the family a few acres to cultivate on which he can raise a few hundred dollars of cash crops, of which one third will go to the landlord and one-tenth to the money lenders.
12. Lop off twenty-five or more years in life expectancy.
By comparison how rich we are! And with our wealth comes the responsibility to use it wisely, and not to be wasteful, and to help others. Think about these things. Proverbs 21:26 speaks to this very problem when it says; “They are always greedy for more, while the godly love to give.” The writer of Ecclesiastes says about the greedy (5:10), “Those who love money will never have enough. How absurd to think that wealth brings true happiness.” But is that not exactly what we think? Do you know what the prime motivation is behind every Casino? It is greed. All their advertising feeds and further magnifies that Greed. Gambling is based on the age-old hope of “getting something for nothing.”
Jesus now addresses the subject of greed by His warning, “One's life does not consist in the abundance of His possessions.” But Greed tries to convince us of just the opposite, “that life does consist in what we own.” Beginning in verse sixteen we have five reasons that show us how foolish this man and his way of thinking was!
First, We Are Fools When We Do Not Give God The Credit For Things He Has Done. (v. 16)
It says in verse 16, “Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.” This parable is addressed to the multitude, for it says that Jesus spoke this parable to them (plural). I think that it is important to note that this parable does not condemn this man for being rich. And to his credit, it would appear that this man had come by his wealth honestly. Notice that Jesus did not say, “A certain man worked very hard and accumulated a great fortune.” He said, "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.” The man worked, that is true and he may have even worked very hard. But apart from the blessings of God, he could have encounter blight or drought, and he would have had no harvest at all. But as this farmer looked at his amazing harvest he did not see the hand of God – he saw only his own effort. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way, “The material blessings of life are either a mirror in which we see ourselves or a window through which we see God.” But don’t we do the same thing today!
How do we look at the blessing in life that we have received? Do we think of God? Are we humbled that God has chosen us to receive such blessings? We Are Fools When We Do Not Give God The Credit For Things He Has Done And…