A Rich Man’s Idea
16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (NRSV)
It’s already time to wrap up the past year.
I hope you had a good and joyful Christmas and holidays.
I hope everyone is happy and satisfied with the past. Even if we are not, we cannot help anything in the past. However, we can learn lessons from it and prepare not to make the same mistakes. Now, it’s time to move forward to the New Year.
Just like an express train, which started at the time when we were born. The train is about to pass the station, 2018 and entering toward to the next station, 2019.
To wrap up the past year, I would like to share a lesson from a hard-worked man who harvested much more than what he projected. Jesus told this parable to remind us of some precious life lessons. From this parable, we can meditate three positions – the rich man, God, and Jesus.
1. Let’s think about the rich man’s position
This rich man is an ordinary person just like you and me. He is delighted with what he had earned. Probably, he and his servants worked hard since spring and throughout the hot summer. As he hoped, God blessed him so much that he could harvest abundantly.
He is not a wicked person. He is just like you and me. Since God blessed him abundantly, he thoroughly planned how to keep the grain and goods safely and to manage them well for the future.
It is just like a guy who won a 100 million dollar lottery. He was overjoyed first. Then he planned how to manage and use the money. He wanted to buy a huge mansion house first, then upgrade his old car to a luxurious car and so on.
Just like that, the rich man decided to build larger barns to accommodate the overflowing grains and goods. Now, he does not worry about the future, probably for the rest of his life. I wish every member of our church had that much money too… Then, he said to himself, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, and be happy.” Is there anything wrong in his thought? Probably not, because we would think the same way.
2. Let’s think about God’s position
While he was contented and contemplating the idea of how to manage his wealth, God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you.”
Why did God call him, ‘fool’ and demand his life?
Before we get to the question, let’s think about God’s blessing. There is nothing wrong with God’s blessing. We remember God blessed Adam and Eve and gave everything on earth. Not only that, God wants us to have a joyful and peaceful life in His grace. Therefore, the richness is not wrong. Our attitude toward wealth is what we need to concern about.
Then, why did God call him ‘fool?’ He did not recognize that God is the source of blessings. God gave us the intelligence, the power of thinking so that we can give thanks to the Lord. However, the foolish rich man did not care about it. That is why God called him ‘fool.’
How about us? I am sure we give thanks to the Lord when we get something we want or get it as a surprise. Do you thank God wholeheartedly when you eat or drink? We give grace to the Lord not because other Christians are looking at us, but because we truly thank God for His grace.
We eat pizza before we start the Bible class on Thursday. When I suggest saying grace, some first-time comers feel a little awkward because they want to eat without praying. However, as we pray together, they could see we genuinely thank God for His grace. In 1 Corinthian 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This is what God wants us to do.
Now, we know why God was going to demand his life. When God blessed him so much, he did not glorify God. We know King Herod. He died when people praised him, “You are a god! You are great!” At the time, he did not give God the glory. This is very scary for those who don’t give glory to God. Satan was made to glorify God. He was an angel, but when he glorified himself, he became a devil and will be punished forever when Jesus comes back.
God also pointed out another issue in verse 21, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” God pointed out his greed. He focused on his life only and could not think about God’s grace and blessings.
If we think about God’s grace, His grace is everywhere and overflowing. God gave us life and health. Of course, sometimes we had to go through some tough times in our health, but eventually, we would be healed miraculously. We know that is how God created us. Did we thank God for healing?
How about the fresh air and tap water and rain we have? You may not realize and appreciate that we live in a land of blessings. When I traveled to Seoul, the air quality was so bad that it is hard to breathe because of smog. As I come to Boston, I thank God for the fresh air. Have you thanked God for the water? There are not many countries, where you can drink tap water. In most countries, it is unthinkable.
If we start looking for reasons to thank God, we may be able to find in every corner of our life. However, this rich man acted foolish as what Romans 1:21-22 says, “For although they knew God, they did not honor God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”
We don’t need to worry because we always thank and give glory to God in our daily life. Worshiping God in Christ is a way to glorify God and show our love and gratitude. When we give offerings to the church, we give not because we want to show off my generosity, but because this is one of many ways to thank God for his blessings and to express our thanksgiving. It is a way to thank God and a way to store up toward God. I believe our church uses the money faithfully to share the Gospel of Christ in the community and throughout the mission field.
3. Lastly, what does Jesus want to teach us from this parable?
Jesus teaches the reason to share this parable. He wants us to guard our heart and life against all kinds of greed. In verse 15, He said, “… for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Yes. The rich man’s heart was blocked with greed. Of course, we need money, houses, cars, etc. However, if we have any form of a greedy lifestyle, we cannot have peace and joy in Christ. That would lead us to fall into temptations.
Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Unfortunately, the rich man lived a helpless life because ‘although they knew God, they did not honor God or give thanks to Him.’
When we are content with Christ and what we have, God promised to be with us forever. In Hebrews 13:5, “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Amen.
In the coming year, let’s thank and glorify God more than ever in every aspect of our life so that our Lord will never leave us nor forsake us in every situation. He will guide us and bless us as Immanuel God forever. Amen and Amen! Praise the Lord!