Parable of the Rich Fool: Luke 12:16-21
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.
Jesus tells this parable of the rich fool as part of his answer to someone in the crowd saying, "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.
Jesus begins by saying, "The land of a rich man produced abundantly." 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 12:16-19)
"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)
The meaning of this parable of the rich fool is found by understanding what Jesus means when he says, "So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21)
Wealth is essentially having an abundance of something that is valuable. Depending on the society, certain metals or resources might make a person wealthy because they are considered valuable, such as: gold, silver, land, cattle, salt, etc.
Whether or not a person is considered wealthy is largely dependent on if they have an abundance of a valued resource.
If a person owns a lot of dollars, euros, pesos, renminbi, or yen, then they are wealthy in that currency. However, if you try to buy something in one country with the currency of another country, you would be rejected because other currencies are not valuable unless first converted. A person would need to have their money converted into that country's currency in order to use it.
In God's kingdom, gold is just a metal and diamonds
are just a rock and "paper money" is just cloth.
These metals, rocks, and currencies are not valuable in God's kingdom, and when we die we cannot keep these things. Also, 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 through our obedience to his expectations. It also 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 a right relationship with God, who is the very giver of life.
The only reason why certain metals or rocks are considered valuable is because people view them as valuable.
The only reason why various currencies are valuable (when they are just made of cloth or metal) is because the countries give them value. If currencies were not valuable, then those countries would not be considered wealthy,
even if they had billions of their currency.
As Jesus says, "One's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions." (Luke 12:15) And "So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God." (Luke 12:21)
Our lives are not made up of possessions, and having lots of possessions does not make a life better, which is why some of the happiest people on Earth are also not among the "most wealthy."
In addition, Jesus is saying that people who are only concerned with becoming wealthy (with whatever they find valuable), instead of becoming "rich" towards God are foolish, because only knowing God is truly valuable.
The rich man is considered to be a fool because he had become wealthy in all that he found valuable and he had failed to become wealthy in the one area that actually mattered.