This Week's Article
“Am I Being Foolish?”
By Colly Caldwell
“16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 "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. 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." ' 20 "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have pro-vided?' 21 "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God" (Luke 12).
This past Wednesday in our class, we studied about Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) and their sin. Jesus said a great deal about the attaining and use of our possessions and our money. This parable is another instance of that in Jesus’ teaching.
Finances are important to all of us. I am told that more than a third of failed marriages result from conflicts over finances. Colleges will tell you that more and more students are taking degrees in business rather than Liberal Arts. People daily watch the stock market and newspapers devote entire sections to keeping us up on financial news. Of course too many spend too much time worrying about money matters and the state of their investments. While it is important to control our money, we must not allow money to control us. That would be foolish. We see that in Jesus’ parable.
Isn’t it interesting that the Lord should call this rich man a “fool.” He doesn’t call him an evildoer, a scoundrel, or even a sinner. He calls him a “fool.” All of those titles may have applied to him in Jesus’ mind but in the parable the man is just seen as a “fool.” The reasons are not all fully explained but the story does suggest some sorts of things that might have applied to his foolishness. They might also apply to us.
First, he might have paid too high a price for what he had. We can do that you know. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually the cost of great wealth is often so involved that it has devastating consequences in our lives. The Tampa Bay Times this past Wednesday carried an article about, Maggie Rodriguez, the new co-host on WFLA’s Channel 8 “Daytime” program. She was co-anchor with Harry Smith of the CBS network’s national morning program The Early Show a decade ago. But she gave it up when her 4-year-old daughter asked, “Mom, why can’t you be my nanny.” Maggie said, “to her the nanny was one who gave you the love and took you everywhere and kind of raised you. So I started to think, ‘At this moment, am I doing this parenting thing wrong?” That was in 2010. Now she feels she can return to work after eleven years as a full-time mother. Her daughter helped her see that her job was costing too much. She was being foolish.
Second, he might have been foolish because he did not know how to use his wealth. He was just storing more of what he did not need. He even had to build more barns to put it in. I have wondered recently what is going into all these storage units being constructed. I can see a temporary need to have a place to put things until used or sold. But just storing up things, often at greater cost than their value, seems foolish. Could it be that we need to go back to Jesus’ teaching about storing up in heaven. He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21). We can use our wealth, even store it up, by helping others and by giving into the Lord’s treasury in order to save the souls of the lost by fulfilling the mission of the church. What would it mean to you to have a part in saving one soul? What joy would it give you to know that you have made another person’s life easier because of your gift?
Third, he was foolish because he did not take accountability into account. This seems to be the primary point of this parable: “So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Too many are what have been called “functional atheists;” i.e. those who believe in the existence of God but to whom it makes no difference in the way they live their lives. These people have no real sense of accountability and the fact that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”