THE RICH FOOL
by Pastor Monico G. Muffley
There is a danger in having too much. Wealth has a high demand on
one's time and energy to obtain it - and to maintain it as well.
The end is found in wealth taking up one's total attention to
reproduce it. It is so powerful that the influence it holds on a
person can end up occupying one's entire focus and time and even
potentially lead up to the person's love being directed toward
the pleasure given by one's possessions. This includes one's
wealth beginning to compete with God for the person's heart and
affection, immobilizing this person from doing the mission he or
she was called by Jesus to do. We would do well to learn the
lesson of the Rich Fool. The story can be found in Luke 12:13-20.
Then one from the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to
divide the inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who
made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" Luke 12:13,14
The first thing we notice is that there is someone in the crowd
of disciples asking Jesus to help him work a problem out; someone
just looking for a little justice; an everyday person with needs.
And who better could solve his problem than Jesus?
But Jesus' response was not as one would expect:
Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not
consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Luke 12:15
What?! Where's the justice?! If someone, even a brother, is
taking advantage of you, shouldn't something be done about it?
Fair is fair, is it not? But God sees life in a way most of us do
As in His other parables, Jesus has something to teach here. In
this parable, Jesus creatively develops a story of an extreme
case to warn against a real danger in the normal day-to-day life.
He uses this opportunity to teach the crowd before Him an
important moral lesson.
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain
rich man yielded plentifully. Luke 12:16
In the parable this "certain rich man" appears - Jesus' classic
way of speaking of nobody in particular. It could be any rich
person; could be Donald Trump; could be Bill Gates. Who the man
is does not matter. What does matter is what the rich man
"And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I
have no room to store my crops?' 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. 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.'" Luke 12:17-19
In Jesus' typical, hyperbolic, storytelling fashion, the
circumstance of this rich man is one of extreme overabundance. He
is doing so well it is necessary to keep building bigger and
We also see that this rich man is a shrewd business man. His
intentions are probably of one of hoarding for his own gain. This
is like a petroleum company that uses a time of national crisis
to price gouge. But what might seem like a great business
opportunity is damaging to and upsets the wellbeing of others.
The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will
be on the head of him who sells it (Proverbs 11:26). The Bernie
Madoffs of society take advantage of and profit from others for
their self-promotion. Likewise, the man in Jesus' parable is only
thinking of himself.
Again we see that this rich man has only himself in mind as we
see Jesus describing:
And he thought within himself... He has no one - no son, no
servant, no manager - to discuss these matters with. He holds
this "dialogue" within himself.
The man thinks to himself: "What shall I do since I have no room
to store my crops?", "I will do this. I will pull down my
barns... I will store all crops, and my goods", "And I will say
to my soul..." His attitude is: "Me, me, me, me, me"; a man who
is entirely full of himself. He even talks out loud to himself:
"Soul, you... take your ease..." Jesus has him saying "soul" -
with the meaning of "self" - to emphasize that the rich man is
all alone. No heir, not even a slave like Abraham's Eliezer of
Damascus (Genesis 15:1-3), to pass his inheritance on to.
But God said to him, "Fool! This night your soul will be required
of you; then whose will those things be, which you have
provided?" Luke 12:20
No one would like to be called a fool, much less by God.
This kind of fool, ?onui (aphron), is not the moronic type of
fool. Rather this type of fool holds no regard for the living God
of the universe. It is the type of fool found in Psalm 14:1 and
Psalm 53:1 - "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" He
is called a fool because he is unaware that even his very self
("soul") belongs to God. He is called a fool because the things
he possesses, the very ones he thought he had provided, will not
be passed on to anyone he would desire to have them.
The rich man in Jesus' parable is like the one in Ecclesiastes
6:2 who has everything but is not able to enjoy it. As Adam
Clarke comments, "A man to whom God hath given riches - A man may
possess much earthly goods, and yet enjoy nothing of them.
Possession and fruition are not necessarily joined together; and
this is also among the vanities of life. It is worthy of remark,
that it belongs to God as much to give the power to enjoy as it
does to give the earthly blessings." 3
In this way Jesus responded to the everyday, run-of-the-mill
person in the crowd who wanted his fair share. And Jesus wrapped
up by saying, "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is
not rich toward God."
Jesus was telling the person in the crowd not to be a fool. In
contrast, he told the crowd of disciples:
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you
will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more
than food, and the body is more than clothing... (Luke 12:22,
From "Acts" magazine - July/August 2011 - a publication of the
General Council of the Churches of God (Seventh Day), Meridian,
1 Pastor Monico Muffley is the Pastor of the Church of God
(Seventh) Day in Meridian, ID.
2 All scripture references are from the NKJV unless otherwise
3 Clarke's Commentary on the Bible, "Ecclesiastes 6:2"
PHYSICAL RICHES, GOODS AND MONEY, ARE NOT EVIL OR SIN PER SE.
PEOPLE LIKE ABRAHAM AND JOB WERE PHYSICALLY RICH. IT IS WHAT YOU
DO WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT THAT IS THE KEY. SOMETIMES I PERSONALLY
WISH I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS OR MORE IN THE BANK - THE HELP I
COULD GIVE TO OTHERS WOULD BE GREAT, AS WELL AS SPREADING THE
GOSPEL, YET TODAY WE ARE BLESSED BEYOND WORDS REALLY, IN HOW
FREELY ON THE INTERNET AND YOUTUBE WE ARE GIVEN THE TIME AND
SPACE TO PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL.
BEING PHYSICALLY RICH IS WONDERFUL ***IF*** YOU USE THOSE
PHYSICAL RICHES TO SERVE AND HELP YOUR FELLOW MAN.
IF YOU ARE RICH AND DO NOT USE THOSE RICHES AS GOD WOULD HAVE
YOU, OR YOU GET CAUGHT UP IN THE SELFISH POWER OF THOSE RICHES,
THEN SALVATION WILL BE VERY VERY DIFFICULT TO OBTAIN, IF NOT
MATTHEW 19 AND THE RICH YOUNG MAN COMES TO MIND. READ IT - MATTHEW
ONE FINE EXAMPLE I REMEMBER FROM ABOUT 15 YEARS AGO. THIS OLDER
MAN IN VANCOUVER, B.C. SOLD SOME LAND, FOUND HIMSELF WITH 20
MILLION DOLLARS. HE WAS ALREADY WELL OFF. HE DID NOT NEED THE
MONEY. HIS 5 CHILDREN WERE WELL OFF AND DOING JUST FINE. HE
CALLED THEM ALL AND ASKED THEM IF IT WAS FINE WITH THEM THAT HE
GAVE AWAY 98% OF THIS 20 MILLION DOLLARS. THEY ALL SAID "GO AHEAD
DAD, HAVE FUN GIVING IT AWAY."
HE DID NOT GIVE IT AWAY CARELESSLY, BUT HE CHOSE THE CHARITIES
AND PEOPLE HE WOULD GIVE IT TO WISELY. ONE LADY RAN A SAFE HOUSE
FOR ABUSED WOMEN AND MOTHERS AND CHILDREN. THE CANADIAN FEDERAL
GOVERNMENT WAS GOING TO CUT OFF MONEY TO HER, HENCE HER HOUSE FOR
SUCH WOMEN AND CHILDREN WOULD HAVE TO CLOSE DOWN. THIS MAN WITH
ANOTHER WOMAN WENT TO SEE THIS LADY. SHE WAS ASKED WHAT SHE
NEEDED, THE LADY SAID "WELL THIS...." THE MAN NODDED, MEANING SHE
WOULD HAVE IT. WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED SHE WAS ASKED, "WELL
THIS...." THE MAN NODDED, MEANING SHE WOULD HAVE IT. THE MAN'S
LADY FRIEND ASKED AGAIN WHAT THIS LADY NEEDED. NOW THE LADY WAS
SHAKING HER HEAD AND SAID, THINKING THIS WAS ALL A JOKE, "WELL
EVERYTHING TO RUN THIS HOUSE AND KEEP IT OPEN." THE MAN NODDED,
SHOULD WOULD HAVE IT ALL. THE LADY NOW REALIZING THIS WAS NO
JOKE, BURST OUT CRYING.
MY NOW THAT IS THE WONDERFUL POWER OF BEING PHYSICALLY RICH AND
SERVING YOUR FELLOW MAN.
SO YOU WHO ARE BLESSED TO BE PHYSICALLY RICH THEN DO AS JESUS
SAID.....GIVE TO THE POOR AND THOSE IN TRUE NEED.