Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

11-11-04

The Man God Called A Fool - The Parable of the Rich Fool

  

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, “Ones 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…

Secondly, We Are Fools When We Make Plans But Leave God Out. (vv. 17-18)


Let’s rereed verses 17 and 18: "And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ (18) "So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.”


There was nothing wrong with his desire to build more barns; it was both wise and sensible.

 

The problem lays in the fact that there is no thought of sharing.

 

We can see his way of thinking in the words he chose; he uses the pronoun “I” five times and “my” four times.

 

Notice how he says my crops, my barns, my goods.

 

He is confused between ownership and stewardship.

 

He forgot that he was not the owner but only the possessor and the steward.

 

All that, had belonged to God.

 

It’s the same with us; it is not ours to own, it is ours on loan.

 
We Are Fools When We Make Plans But Leave God Out And…

Third, We Are Fools When We Live Only For the Moment. (v. 19)  

 

That’s what this man was doing, and it says in verse 19, “And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”


In this verse, although he addresses himself as “soul”, it is his physical life that he is really concerned about.


This man thought that when he put his plan into being that he would have it made for years to come.

 

But all of this is based on the fact that this man expected to control the fate of future crops.

 

He imagines the future as continually getting better, and under his control.

 

But nothing could be further from the truth.

 
The book of James speaks to just such an attitude (4:13-16) when he says, “Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; (14) whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. (15) Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that."(16) But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”

 

The Bible does not discourage us from looking to the future with great expectation.

 

However, as we make our plans, whether in business, in relationships or in our personal lives, we are to do so from the perspective that ultimately God is in charge.

 

In other words, we need to plan with humility.


I wonder what this says about our American concept of retirement.

 

I am not against retirement, since I am living in retirement now.

 

But perhaps God would have us to look at it differently; perhaps to see it as a time when we have more free income and greater time on our hands than ever before to do something for the kingdom of God.


We Are Fools When We Live Only For the Moment And…

Fourth, We Are Fools When We Store Our Treasure In The Wrong Places.(v. 20)

 

Verse 20 says, "But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?”


According to Scripture a fool is a man who leaves God out of any consideration.

 

Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.”

 

This man is a fool, not because he expressed this thought, but because he has lived his life as if God did not exist.

 

He is a fool in that he did not recognize that his material blessings came from God, nor did he recognize any obligation to God in the use of his possessions.

 

Fools leave God out of their lives.

 

Let me illustrate what I mean with a story I red.


George W. Truett, a well-known pastor, was invited to dinner in the home of a very wealthy man in Texas.

 

After the meal, the host led him to a place where they could get a good view of the surrounding area.

 

Pointing to the oil wells punctuating the landscape, he boasted, “Twenty-five years ago I had nothing. Now, as far as you can see, it’s all mine.”

 

Looking in the opposite direction at his sprawling fields of grain, he said, “That’s all mine.”

 

Turning east toward huge herds of cattle, he bragged, “They’re all mine.”

 

Then pointing to the west and a beautiful forest, he exclaimed, “That too is all mine.”


He paused, expecting Dr. Truett to compliment him on his great success.

 

Truett, however, placing one hand on the man’s shoulder and pointing heavenward with the other, simply said, “How much do you have in that direction?”

 

The man hung his head and confessed, “I never thought of that.”

 
David Gooding said this in his commentary on Luke, “Heaven is scarcely a reality to a man who is not prepared to invest hard cash in it and in its interests; but by the same token it becomes more of a reality to the man who is willing!”


To be a fool is to have missed the point of life.

 

Jesus says, “this very night your soul will be demanded of you.”

 

The Greek word translated “required” or “demanded” is literally a commercial term meaning “to demand back or require back” - conveying the idea of life as a loan that must be repaid to God upon demand.

 
He goes on in the second half of verse twenty to say, “Then whose will those things be which you have provided?”

 

Long before, the great philosopher Solomon made a comment on this very problem in Eccles. 2:21-23.

 

“For though I do my work with wisdom, knowledge and skill, I must leave everything I gain to people who haven’t worked to earn it. This is not only foolish but highly unfair. (22) So what do people get for all their hard work? (23) Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night they cannot rest. It is all utterly meaningless.” (New Living Translation)


Since you cannot take it with you, there is no need to wear ourselves out accumulating it.

 

Everything you have will one day be left behind.

 

It is yours now to use or to abuse, but one day it will be taken from you and you will stand before the Lord and give an account of how you used it.


Jim Elliot, a missionary who was killed by the Auca Indians to whom he went to minister, stated it well when he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”


We Are Fools When We Store Our Treasure In The Wrong Places And…

Fifth, We Are Fools When We Will Find Ourselves In Conflict With God’s Plan For Our Lives. (v. 21)


In verse 21 it says about the foolish man, "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."


Riches have one major weakness; they have no purchasing power after death.

 

The “rich towards God” are those who use what God has given them for others.

 

There are numerous examples in Scripture.

 

People such as the centurion who build a synagogue for the people to worship in, and the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus where Jesus often found rest were rich toward God.

 

The way we become rich towards God is to invest in His church and in the lives of His people.

 

But don’t misunderstand me; it is not that the church needs your resources in order to survive, but that generosity will add a richness to your life that you would otherwise miss.

Conclusion


1. We Are Fools When We Do Not Give God The Credit For Things He Has Done.

2. We Are Fools When We Make Plans But Leave God Out.

3. We Are Fools When We Live Only For the Moment.

4. We Are Fools When We Store Our Treasure In The Wrong Places.

5. We Are Fools When We Will Find Ourselves In Conflict With God’s Plan For Our Lives.

 

But remember, we are rich toward God, when we invest our time, talents and money in the kingdom of God.

 

But first you must be a member of the Kingdom, and the way to do that is to believe in God’s Son.

 

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