Living Lessons 8

Parable of the Rich Fool

Have you ever wondered what makes someone do something or what their reasoning is behind their actions?

In Luke 12:13-21 we find a situation where someone puts Jesus on the spot and asks him to do something that would be of benefit to them; “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me (Luke 12:13, ESV).” 

Jesus’ response is confrontational, as he asks this person who had decided that He should be involved. I’m sure this person was hoping that Jesus would intervene somehow, but the result is certainly different than likely expected. Jesus responds with “take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (Luke 12:15, ESV).” 

Jesus confronts the root of the issue, which is this person’s desire to gain more, to have more, to seek more. When Jesus says, “take care,” the Greek words that Luke uses imply a deeper prompt to  be aware of what the internal motivations and desires are behind wanting something. The following words “be on your guard” are a similar point prompting whoever heard this to intentionally avoid what it is being warned about. Jesus is confronting this selfish approach; an approach based in the need to gain and maintain. 
The story Jesus provides next is a direct example of the warning he gave. He tells of a man who had so much stuff to maintain and protect that he completely rebuilds the storage, specifically including the man’s inner thinking of how good this is for himself.

Verse 19 reads “And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry (Luke 12:19, ESV).” What stands out to me about this statement is that it’s about what he has. He does so much work to protect and maintain what he has.

God’s response to this is to point out that it’s all just possessions; “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God (Luke 12:20-21, ESV).”

In this parable Jesus is communicating how easy it can be to look at what we have, what we do, and what we want as everything is all about benefiting us. How we hope and do what we can to ensure things will work out for us. How easy it is to reflect on what we have and how we got it. Jesus warns us of this, pointing out that ultimately the way our motives impact our actions matters. Jesus is more concerned with what makes a person seek and maintain things for themselves, especially when that prohibits them being intentional about sharing and contributing to the work of God. May our prayer be that we hear Jesus when in moments where he cautions us with care. May we continue to stay focused on Jesus. And may our motives and actions reflect the generosity and provision of Christ.

By Katie Wagner


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