And Jesus said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
Over the upcoming weeks in chapel time we will be reflecting on the ‘Parable of the Rich Fool’. The parable is the story of a farmer who has had a bumper harvest and decides that he will replace his barns with bigger ones to store the abundant crop. He decides that he has ample goods for himself, so he will sit back and eat drink and be merry for the years to come. However, unbeknown to him that very night would be his final night!
“God said to him, you fool! This very night you will have to give up your life; then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself?’”
Jesus concludes the parable saying, “This is how it is with those who pile up riches for themselves but who are not rich in God’s sight.”
The reality of human nature is that no matter how much we have we always seem to want more. Whether that is wages, possessions, and position or accumulated wealth. We are constantly confronted by advertising that surreptitiously convinces us that we need certain things to bring fulfillment to our lives. There’s a sense that we are inadequate if we don’t have certain possessions or live a certain lifestyle. The parable of the Rich Fool along with other teachings of Jesus was completely countercultural for people two thousand years ago as it is to many today.
Like the rich farmer, we are tempted to think that having large amounts of money and possessions stored up will make us secure. Sooner or later, however, we learn that no amount of wealth or property can secure our lives. No amount of wealth can protect us from a genetically inherited disease, illness or tragedy. No amount of wealth can keep our relationships healthy and meaningful. Many times wealth and assets can easily drive a wedge between friends and families. No amount of wealth can secure authentic happiness in our lives. Jesus repeatedly warns that wealth can get in the way of our relationship with family, friends and God. “Take care!” he says. “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions”.
Its not that God doesn’t want us to save for retirement or future needs, or that God doesn’t want us to “eat, drink, and be merry” and enjoy what God has given us, indeed Jesus spent time eating and drinking with people and enjoying life. However he was also clear about where his true security lay. It is all about priorities. How we invest our lives and all that we have, ever mindful of the needs of all humanity.
As this parable follows on from the parable of ‘The Good Samaritan’, the question that we should wrestle with is, ‘How much is enough’?