27. Parable of the Rich Fool
Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool in order to warn about greed and to illustrate his point that "one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." (Luke 12:15)
Another parable that discusses a rich man is the
Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Context of the Parable
In context, Jesus tells this parable of the rich fool as part of his answer to someone in the crowd who says to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." (Luke 12:13)
Jesus answers by saying, "Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?" (Luke 12:14)
Then Jesus says, "Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." (Luke 12:15)
To illustrate this point, Jesus tells this parable of the rich fool.
Summary of the Parable of the Rich Fool
Jesus begins by saying, "The land of a rich man produced abundantly." (Luke 12:16)
The man then thinks to himself, "What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?'
Then he says, '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. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.'" (Luke 12:17-19)
"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?" (Luke 12:20)
Jesus concludes by saying, "So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21)
Meaning of the Parable of the Rich Fool
Okay, so the question is: What does Jesus mean when he says, "So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21)?
What is Jesus trying to communicate by telling this parable of the rich fool?
If we think about it, "wealth" is simply having a large abundance of whatever is considered "valuable."
In some places on Earth, certain metals are considered extremely valuable, such as gold and silver.
Therefore, having a lot of these metals would mean a person was wealthy in gold and silver.
In other places, such as an agrarian society, having a lot of land, cattle, and crops would make a person considered to be "wealthy," because they have an abundance of what is valued in that society.
Nowadays, in many countries, having a lot of the "currency" that your country uses would make a person wealthy (dollars, euros, pesos, renminbi, yen, etc.).
However, in God's kingdom: gold is just a metal; dollars, euros, pesos, renminbi, yen, etc. are just cloth; and diamonds are just a rock.
These metals, ink and cloths, and rocks aren't valuable in God's kingdom, and when we die we can't keep these things; and these things won't even be valuable when we die.
The only thing that is valuable in God's kingdom is having a relationship with him, which includes understanding God and having knowledge of him and his kingdom, so that we can obey him.
Essentially, the only "truly" valuable thing in the entire world is knowing God and being in right relationship with God, the very giver of life.
If we think about it, the only reason why certain metals or rocks are considered valuable is because people view them as valuable.
If we were to take "dollars" to a place were "paper money" (cloth money) isn't valued, then that society wouldn't consider us wealthy at all, even if we had millions of dollars.
Therefore, Jesus really means what he says in these verses:
"One's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." (Luke 12:15)
"So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21)
Our lives aren't made up of possessions, and having lots of possessions doesn't make a life better, which is why some of the happiest people on Earth are also not among the "most wealthy."
In addition, with the second verse, Jesus is saying that people who are only concerned with becoming wealthy (with whatever they find valuable), instead of becoming "rich" towards God (which is the only thing "truly" valuable) are foolish, because only knowing God is truly valuable.
Jesus is saying that the rich man was a fool, because he had become wealthy in all these things he found valuable (which is something conditional) and he had failed to become wealthy in the one thing that is truly valuable, which is having a right relationship with the very giver of life.
Go to previous parable: 26. Friend in Need
Go to next parable: 28. Barren Fig Tree
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