Don’t Be A Fool
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
We have been working our way through the Gospel of Luke for three summers now. Did you know that “Gospel” means “Good News”? I would say that for the past few weeks the messages have been anything but Good News; especially for the Pharisees, and scribes. Good thing none of us here have anything in common with those people! Two weeks ago, we heard from Pharisee Phil how Jesus gave six woes and warnings to the Pharisees and scribes. Last week we heard the need for us to be on our guard against the yeast of the Pharisees. The yeast of the Pharisees is hypocrisy—or play acting. You know, when you look all good on the outside but your inside is pretty disgusting? Yes, good thing we have nothing in common with those Pharisees and scribes!
I have to warn you; today’s message is another zinger. Jesus gives us a parable and calls us to stay on our guard against all kinds of greed.
Did you know that Jesus talked a great deal about money and the problems that money causes? Do you know that one-fifth of all Jesus had to say was about money? One-fifth --- 20%-- that is a lot. If Jesus were the pastor of this church, ten out of the fifty-two Sundays of the year, we would hear messages about money --- it’s uses and abuses. Today’s passage will literally hit home. Get ready.
Before we listen to God’s Word for us this morning, let us come to the throne of grace. “God of all grace, teach us again that all we have is from You. Teach us to use what we have been given for Your glory and honor. Amen”
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” 20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”[i]
I would like to read this passage from The Message Bible.
The Message Bible
Someone out of the crowd said, “Teacher, order my brother to give me a fair share of the family inheritance.” 14 He replied, “Mister, what makes you think it’s any of my business to be a judge or mediator for you?” 15 Speaking to the people, he went on, “Take care! Protect yourself against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” 16–19 Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘What can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘Here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’ 20 “Just then God showed up and said, ‘Fool! Tonight you die. And your barnful of goods—who gets it?’ 21 “That’s what happens when you fill your barn with Self and not with God.”[ii]
Jesus has been teaching the disciples about the yeast of Pharisees--which is hypocrisy. Now a man interrupts Him. “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Inheritance! Have you ever been concerned about your inheritance? Have you ever been concerned regarding the inheritance that you will leave to your children and to your children’s children? This unnamed man is concerned with his inheritance.
You know what seminary doesn’t teach? Seminary doesn’t teach a course on weddings and funerals and how families who never argue or fight seem to go off the deep end at weddings and funerals. I will celebrate 20 years of being an ordained minister this coming January. Inheritance lies deep within the hearts of us all. I’ve spent zillions of hours with families who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Some of the saddest times of my ministry have come when the surviving children fight over their inheritance.
To be honest with you, I have had to help mediate at many memorial services. They don’t teach those classes in seminary.
The past few weeks, I have talked with Ruthie Hughes. Ruthie and Bobby are back home in in Tennessee. Ruthie’s mom is very sick with cancer. Ruthie and Bobby are sitting with her mom as she prepares to go home to be with the Lord. Ruthie has shared story after story of how her mom has touched others with her love. Mama Ruth always made her world-famous pecan pie for every memorial service at her church. She baked pies and cookies and chicken and dumplings. When someone needed a friend, Mama Ruth was there to be a friend. When a visitor moved to town, Mama Ruth went and knocked on the door and greeted the new person in town with, “Hi, I am Ruth Fisher, what is your name?” Ruthie shared that her mom was a single mom who raised her children while working fulltime at the local shoe factory so that she could provide for her family. One day, Ruthie face-timed me and she walked me all around the house that her mom built. Ruthie said her mom built the house room by room. As she had the money, she built the house. God, I ask for a special blessing from you to be upon our single moms—what a hard job they have but with you and with us as their family—they can raise strong, faith-filled children—just look at Ruthie Hughes.
When I heard Ruthie’s stories about her mom, I thought of the passage for today. I thought about the inheritance of the rich farmer. states these powerful words, “A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous.”
Today we are going to look at . Jesus is interrupted by an unnamed man and gives the man a powerful waring in verse 15. Listen again to Jesus’ words; “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
The Greek for “watch out” is a present active imperative verb, a command to “watch out, be careful, be prudent, take notice, pay attention, concern yourself with, and learn about.” The action of being on our guard is to be continuous. Jesus warns us to continually watch out, pay attention, take notice. I remember hearing my mom says, “Look both ways before crossing the street.” That is exactly what Jesus is saying here! Watch out! Look both ways!
In verse 15, Jesus puts two imperative verbs together. The first is “watch out” and the second is the same word that Jesus gave His disciples, “be on your guard.” This is exactly what Jesus told His disciples last week, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” () Now Jesus is back at it saying, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Do you hear what Jesus is saying? Watch out, look both ways, be on your guard against GREED. What exactly is greed anyway? Webster defines it “an intense and selfish desire to have more of something.” Maybe this is why 1/5 or 20% of Jesus’ teaching was on money. Money in and of itself is neither good or bad. It’s the LOVE OF MONEY that can make money a bad thing. Later in this chapter, Jesus will say, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
So, hear what Jesus is really saying: Money is neither evil or good. Money is neutral. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Paul wrote to Timothy about money, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” ()
Our grandchildren play a game on the computer called Minecraft. In my preparation, for this message, I came across an interesting article about the founder of Minecraft.
In 2014, software giant Microsoft paid $2.5 billion to acquire Mojang AB, the Swedish company that created the worldwide gaming sensation Minecraft. The deal made Markus Persson a billionaire, with a personal net worth of about $1.3 billion. Persson then promptly outbid Beyoncé and Jay-Z on a Beverly Hills megamansion—a $70 million home that's been described as an "overwhelming sensory experience," outfitted with insane amenities like M&M towers, vodka and tequila bars, a movie theater and 15 bathrooms, each equipped, we're told, with toilets that cost $5,600 each.
Listen to Persson’s August 29, 2015, series of tweets that capture his gnawing sense of unhappiness and dissatisfaction. The four tweets last 5 minutes:
4:48am: The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.
4:50am: Hanging out in Ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I've never felt more isolated.
4:52am: When we sold the company, the biggest effort went into making sure the employees got taken care of, and now they all hate me.
4:53am: Found a great girl, but she's afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead.[iii]
The warning is for us to watch out and be on our guard regarding our possessions and our money
Jesus now gives us a parable to illustrate the folly of seeking fulfillment in riches. The illustration is called “The Parable of the Rich Fool.” The rich farmer has an abundance of crops. So much so that instead of sharing and giving his abundance away, he decides to build more and bigger barns in order to store up his abundance.
Can you see the false sense of security in the rich fool? Because of his financial success, he fell prey to foolish reasoning. Listen again to verses seventeen through nineteen; “He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”
Building new and bigger barns is logical and even prudent. It sounded like a good idea to him. But the danger of the rich fool is what was missing. There was no thought of sharing, no thought of stewardship. There was no thought for the poor, the sick, the naked, or those in prison. In these two verses, the personal pronoun “my” occurs four times and “I” occurs eight times. Twelve times in just a few verses. The rich and foolish farmer was completely self-absorbed. That is why he reached the fateful conclusion, “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry’
Jerry Oppenheimer's book, Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty recounts the story of the Johnson family made unimaginably wealthy by Band-Aids and baby powder. There are endless stories of at least four generations and there isn't one noble person in the lot. Extravagances we can't fathom, the worst of family relationships, runaway addictions, brutally raw power. The Johnsons were rotting in their wealth. When Robert Wood Johnson Jr. died, he left an "immense fortune worth hundreds of millions of dollars." His last words to his nurse were: “I have millions of dollars. I would give everything I have if someone could make me well.' [iv]
Jesus called the rich man a fool. “Afron” in Greek refers to someone that is mindless, lacking sense, ignorant and destitute of knowledge and truth. The rich fool had forgotten God! He had no sense, and did not know knowledge or truth. The Bible teaches that to leave God out of our plans is the height of folly. The rich fool was more concerned with his unholy trinity--- me, myself and I--instead of the Holy Trinity-- God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
The warning is for us to watch out and be on our guard against the love of money, and possessions.
The witness is that we are to remember that all we have is God’s. If we have too much of something, we just might want to learn how to share!
THE SO WHAT?
You all know that I just started my second series of chelation for lead poisoning. I have too much lead in my body and I would gladly share it! On a serious note, this lesson in Luke really hit home. I really could have died from all that lead. As a pastor, I’ve watched what happens to families when the father or mother passes away. Sometimes it’s all good. But sometimes it’s sad to witness. This chapter got me thinking about what I want to leave as my legacy.
That’s your “so what?” for the week. Think about your life. Think about all the things you are storing up. Think about how you want others to remember you. I can’t help but think of Mama Ruth. She was the first one to the new folks’ door, pie in hand. “Hi! I’m Ruth. What’s your name?”
I’m pretty sure that the one who dies with the most toys isn’t the winner after all.
Your homework for the week is to ask yourself these questions:
Do I love people or possessions?
Do I love God or do I love someone else more than God?
If God were to ask me to share something that I deeply love, would I?
This is what Jesus is trying to teach us in this parable. We could spend our entire lives storing up our zillion possessions…and just when we think it’s time to eat, drink and be merry—we could get called home.
The love of money is the root of all evil. That’s why Jesus spends ten Sundays a year preaching about money! Noisy Sunday is a perfect example for us. Here’s a rescue home in Lusaka, Zambia, Africa. The Alliance for Children Everywhere runs two rescue homes here, and hosts 8 local schools--a thousand children are learning to read and write. In just under 7 years, we’ve collected over $15,000 to help support these children. We’re getting ready to form another ZAMBIA MISSION DREAM TEAM for 2018. Maybe the Lord is going to call you to make the trip. Maybe the Lord is calling you to help support those going. Maybe the Lord is calling you to help CHANGE THE WORLD FOR CHRIST.
Watch both ways going home today…life is short…we never know when the Lord will call us home. I pray we’re ready…and I pray we share our abundance with others.
I told you it was a hard message…but with Christ’s love and grace—we can do this!
The Seed Christian Fellowship
Rancho Cucamonga, California 91701
July 30, 2017
Pastor Dave Peters
[i] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[ii] Peterson, E. H. (2005). The Message: the Bible in contemporary language (). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
[iii] Arik Hesseldahl, "Minecraft Billionaire Markus Persson Hates Being a Billionaire," Re/code (8-29-15)
[iv] Jerry Oppenheimer, Crazy Rich (St. Martin's Press, 2013)