And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 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?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
One of the ways we end up looking foolish is by spending our time and money on things that, in the course of time, don’t matter at all. I’ve spent money on things that I’ve rarely or never used. Or paid for extended warranties for things that don’t break in the time you’ve insured them for, possibly because you didn’t need them or use them much in the first place. Or invested in opportunities that went nowhere. I’ve never been much of a saver, I’m more of a spender. Savers end up with a lot in the bank, and spenders end up surrounded by a lot of things that don’t matter or prove to be worthless, but you think (at the time you buy them) that you need them.
Savers end up with a sense of security; that’s the thing they are spending their money on. Or maybe they are investing in the next generation. We talk about how wise it is to save, but in the end, it’s the same thing. You can’t take it with you. All your toys, or all your savings, will end up in someone else’s hands. What we need to consider, whether we are spenders or savers, is how it will be on that day. The day when we leave it behind.
Jesus is speaking to a crowd in Luke 12, and he is interrupted by a man asking him to intervene on an inheritance issue. He probably thinks Jesus will side with him, because Jesus has taken the side of the downtrodden in his disputes with the Pharisees. But he doesn’t understand Jesus’ message. The message of the kingdom is not about economic equality; it is about what really matters. We should have values that make sense in light of the kingdom that is coming, not in light of the life we are leaving behind.
The parable is of a man who many would consider a wise saver. His focus in life is accumulation, on guaranteeing a comfortable life for himself in the future. But he has made a serious error. He has spent his life storing up his wealth, and forgotten the thing that matters. At the end, the investment of his life has proven to be worthless. The words that God speaks to him are, “You fool!” But his foolishness is not that he’s wealthy, or that he’s a saver, or that he wanted a comfortable life. His foolishness is that he has not invested in things that matter. Things that are God’s priorities. Things that will last beyond this life.
Jesus says this is “how it will be” for anyone who “stores up things for themselves.” The message is just as true for spenders as for savers. It’s just as true for those who have a lot as for those who have little. If we spend our lives on things that have no value to us, in the end, we are fools. How will it be, for you, on that day? At the moment all of this comes to an end, what will his words for you be? If you can hear Jesus’ words and understand this parable, you still have time. Time to do it differently. Time to make your wealth and resources count.
The church I attend was started by a small group of people who had a vision for impacting people for Christ. It was the second church built in what eventually became a very large city, on a lot that had previously been an orange grove. Those people all took out mortgages against their homes to buy the lot and build a church. I wonder what others must have told them. In the world’s eyes, they were foolish. Now, many years later, they have all passed away. None of them are still alive. But the church they built reaches out to the city, and across the world through its various missions programs, sharing the love of Jesus Christ and leading uncounted numbers to him. The day that they left this world, their barns were not as full as they might have been. But I know the words they heard, from the only voice that matters. “Well done!” (Matt 25:21).
I’ve been foolish with my finances, but I know the words I want to hear on that day. Fortunately, I still have time. You do too. To be rich toward God, to invest in things that matter. Offer Him your time, your wealth, your heart.