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Faithlife

The Parable of the Rich Fool

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INTRODUCTION
I learned many lessons from my grandmother. She told me about two brothers, named Carlos and Ricardo. They were good friends with each other, at least most of the time.
One day, their grandma decided to give them a gift: a nice wood airplane.
So, she called both boys, showing them two identical packages and saying:
- I have a present for each of you! Yayyy! They shout.
- Because Carlos is older he can choose first! Yayyy! Carlos shouts.
As good boys always do, he looks at his brother’s sad face and says:
- You can chose first Ricardo! Yayyy! Ricardo Shouts! But Grandma interrupts and says,
- No, I said the older has the right to choose first!
So Carlos takes one package and starts to open it. While he peels off the layers of paper, Ricardo looks on with wide eyes. At that point he had already forgotten that he would get a present as well. Ricardo is more interested in discovering the mysteries of Carlos’ present.
Grandma gives the second package to Ricardo but he does not even blinks. His only desire at that moment is to see what Carlos is going to get.
When Ricardo sees that awesome, super, mega, incredible airplane he immediately starts to yell:
- I want that one! I want that! I want that!
Once again, Carlos has a nice attitude and says:
- Okay Ricardo, you can have mine and I’ll take yours. Once again grandma says:
- No, you keep yours and he will have his.
So, Ricardo gets his package and slowly starts to open it. With tears of anger in his eyes he realizes that both presents are exactly the same! Oops…Now he is not angry anymore, but he is silent and ashamed.
After the story, she told me I was one of these two brothers. Providentially I was Carlos!
PAGE #1 - GREED IN THE LIVES OF THE TWO BROTHERS
In the text we also see two brothers. They were two greedy brothers and the younger wants what belonged to the older as well.
Jesus was teaching and someone asked him to solve an issue between him and his brother.
He shouts out from the midst of the crowd.
- Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me!
As usual, Jesus’ response to the question is not quite expected. He said to the man:
- What do I have to do with that? Who told you that I am your judge or arbiter? There are rules to be followed in our tradition!
The rule in that time stated that the oldest son would receive a double portion of the inheritance.
Jesus knew these two brothers. The problem was not the older brother selfishness but the greed of two brothers and, that is why Jesus says “Watch out! Be careful to guard against all forms of greed!”
Yes, there are several kinds of greed! To those listening to Jesus maybe the most common type of greed was regarding money and possessions. However, Jesus is saying that greed affects different areas of their lives!
To illustrate this he tells a parable. So here is my personal version of the parable:
A Certain man was a very successful farmer from Kansas.
This man had wheat fields in Kansas, orange groves in Florida, a coffee plantation in Colombia and thousands heads of cattle in Texas! He had bank accounts in Delaware, Panama and Switzerland!
One year there was a huge harvest, so great that he did not have enough barns for storage! What a great opportunity to share! Don’t you think!?
However, this man was more interested in having his barns full of wheat than having his life filled with grace! He had a businessman’s head but not a God centered heart!
This is what the man thought:
“What can I do?”
And in a schizophrenic moment he said to himself:
“I know! I am really awesome! It is not for nothing that they call me Mr. RichGuy of Kansas! I will destroy all my barns and I will build new ones, better ones, improved and much bigger!
So, when I will have my super duper barns and much money in my accounts I will be able to say to my soul: Let’s go to Hawaii, Europe, Rio de Janeiro! Now it is time to enjoy life and rest a lot because I deserve it!”
The text does not make it clear whether or not the two brothers were as rich as the farmer but it is really clear that they were as greedy as the farmer was!
At this point we realize that the trouble here is more than greed but it is death! This farmer, despite all his wealth is still a human being and humans die!
Then Jesus tells his followers what God says to this man:
“You are crazy! You are going to die today, so who will use all you have prepared for yourself?”
Then, Jesus says that death (the eternal punishment) will happen with those who store up everything for themselves but are poor in the sight of God. That is, those who prefer storage treasures in their earthly barns instead in barns in heaven will not have a happy ending!
That man preferred to tear down his barns than to give away what he could.
He’d rather have full barns on earth than full barns in heaven!
PAGE #2 - GREED IN THE LIVES OF OUR PEOPLE
Many times we are just like this farmer. Often we prefer to store up riches here than to fill up our barns in heaven.
Our barns cannot contain everything we desire. It does not matter the size of my barn or the amount of my goods; I often find myself dreaming about new possibilities. What if I win the lottery? What if I find a suitcase full of money? What if I get that promotion? What if? What if? What if?
I heard about a very greedy man named Paul who lived in a very small city.
One day he was missing a bag that contained a total of 5000 dollars. He searched for it but couldn’t find it. He told his friends, neighbors, and workers about his lost bag and requested hat they inform him if they found it.
After a couple of days, a little girl who used to live near Paul’s house found that bag. She told her father about it. He told his daughter that it was Mr. Paul’s bag and that he would return it to him.
Despite being a poor worker he went to the man and returned the bag. Paul was happy to get that bag but because of his greediness he decided to play a trick.
He shouted at the worker, “There were 6000 in this bag, but you gave me only 5000. Where are other 1000? You have stolen it!”
The worker was shocked to hear that and pleaded that he gave whatever his daughter had found. But selfish and greedy Paul decided to take the matter to court.
They all went to court. The Judge heard both sides and examined the daughter and the worker about the amount of money they found and was assured it was only 5000.
Now the judge cross examined Paul about the money to which he replied, “Yes Sir, I had 6000 dollars in my bag but they gave me only 5000. They have stolen my money.”
So, the Judge made a judgment, “Since Paul lost a bag with 6000 and the bag found by the girl had only 5000 dollars, the bag doesn’t belong to Paul. So, it was lost by someone else. In addition, if someone found any bag with 6000 dollars it will be returned to Paul. There were no claims for the loss of 5000 dollars. So he ordered the girl and her father to accept 5000 as a token of appreciation for their honesty.”
I have seen several situations where greed is very present.
Greed affects rich and poor, good and bad, Kids, Teenagers and Adults, Reformed Baptist and Catholic. It affects Business men, simple workers or high executives, even pastors and seminarians! You are Paul, just like me and everybody else!
For example Greed is found on comparison! I think I am poor when I compare myself to you! You think you are poor when you compare yourself to someone else. Someone else thinks he is poor when he compares himself to Mr. RichGuy and Mr. RichGuy thinks he is poor when he compares himself with Bill Gates…
Greed is found in overspending on goods or possessions.
Greed is also in a sense of entitlement, in the feeling that someone owes you something!
You might know people who think like this:
“Ohh…Poor me, they should give me this or that because I am ME!…” No one owes us anything!”
You and I always want to have a little more in our barns ... and when we have our barns filled ... when we are finally there ... we can build bigger barns and start over again!
Even for that rich farmer, the story could be different. That man could had the right attitude and he would hear something different from God. Something like: You are wise my son! You are going home today! You won’t need barns anymore because today you are going to be in your heavenly mansion! Well done my faithful servant!
For the man in the parable, it was too late to build more barns. It was too late to enjoy the life he had built.
PAGE #3 - JESUS SHOWS THAT THERE IS A WAY TO OVERCOME GREED
Fortunately, it was not too late for the listeners of Jesus!
As usual Jesus not only points to the sin but also gracefully presents the solution to the sinner's problem.
Jesus looks beyond the greed of those two brothers. He looks beyond the sins of the people around. He points out the solution and teaches the way.
So, after Jesus points out the problem, he turns to the people.
The disciples already knew that look. It was the same look as when Jesus looked at the crowds and had compassion. The same look as when he fed over 5000 people. It was the same look as when he raised a dead girl and as when he healed many people.
The disciples knew! One of those "Messiah Moments" was coming. They were not wrong!
Once again Jesus raises a beacon of hope to the people, which most of them had no goods, money or even an inheritance from their parents.
When Jesus states that "life does not Consists in abundance of possessions he demonstrates that these two brothers had a wrong request! The right request should be: “Teacher, help us to work together and understand what to do with our inheritance!”
The right question is, what can I do to overcome this desire of having more and more?
The answer is obvious for those who know Jesus: Be generous! Bless people! Buy only what you need! Save only what is necessary! Love God and love your neighbor!
Jesus teaches also that those who accumulate treasures in heaven are rich in God's eyes. They will have a different ending! Life and eternal reward! They will have a “happily ever after” ending!
God shows us through the Bible that if we accumulate riches on earth by obtaining, we can accumulate riches in heaven by giving! The solution to greed is generosity!
Remember: “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”[1]
Jesus is the one who could help and empower those two brothers to be generous instead greedy. He teaches the people that generosity is the solution for greed no matter who you are or how much you have!
PAGE #4 - JESUS EMPOWERS US TO OVERCOME GREED BY GENEROSITY
It does not matter who you are! Jesus empowers us to overcome greed by generosity.
Back in Brazil, I was witness to a great story when I was in College
God had shown to a seminary student named Rick that he should help a friend by paying his tuition. He used all his savings and anonymously paid that whole balance.
Shortly after that, due to an unexpected expense he realized he did not have enough money to pay for his own tuition. In his heart he began to wonder: “why Lord?”
“It was so clear that I was supposed to help. I had that amount and I knew I was not to keep it stored in a barn but that it came from the Lord for me to help others; however, now I will have to give up on own studies.”
“Perhaps it is the Lord’s will that I quit seminary so that this other person can finish.”
The young seminarian went to administrative office to say that he could not pay his tuition that month. This is what he was told
"What are you talking about? Your tuition is already paid ... We received an envelope with your name on it. We know that you normally pay that way so we thought it was you."
What a joy is to know that God cares for his people and provides everything we need!
God empowers you and me through His Holy Spirit to overcome greed! His Word is very clear about it. The greatest enemy of greed is generosity!
We overcome greed because God was generous and gave us his son! It is because that generosity that we are empowered to overcome greed.
Greed was overcome at on the cross. Generosity is the fruit of this victory! Because generosity is a fruit of Jesus’s victory on the cross, it is also a fruit of love, that is, a fruit of his holy spirit that dwell in us!
Someone said: “to be rich in God is far better than to be rich in goods.”[2] That is the biblical truth that Jesus is teaching in the parable!
God allows us to live a life with real meaning because our lives do not consist of the value of our goods!
What Jesus says is: “Never let gold become your god.” [3] I am with you; I am taking care of everything; trust me because I won’t fail. Just be generous and you will defeat greed! Life does not consist on what you have!
It does not matter if you are rich or poor, if you have a huge debt or a huge amount of debtors. Your life is more than possessions. Your life consists not on how much money you have but on how much love God has for you. If you are one of his people, He will help you to store up treasures’ in heaven!
[1] David McCasland
[2] Dennis Fisher
[3] Dave Branon
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