In the last couple of posts we’ve been looking at Jesus’ teaching that is commonly called, “The Parable of the Rich Fool.” Rembrandt was so taken by the story that he rendered it.
Watch this brief video explanation of the painting.
“What shall I do?” said the rich man who just got richer. Now that’s a great question! We should all be asking that question in times of plenty and of poverty. “What shall I do?” Problem is, this guy wasn’t asking God the question. He was talking to himself. And then he answered his own question out of his own head! The whole conversation went on between him and himself. He wasn’t consulting God, he was looking to himself.
“He thought to himself” What’s wrong with that? Thinking is good, right? Aren’t we supposed to think for ourselves? Yeah, but not to ourselves. And, as followers rather than mere fans of God we’re supposed to think through the lens of Truth and from the vantage point of our love and devotion to him. “In all our ways,” we’re told to, “acknowledge him, and he will direct our paths.”
“The ground yielded…” As I said before, the foolish farmer had little to nothing to do with the bumper crop. He worked the ground but the way Jesus framed it, it was the “ground” that did it. It wasn’t necessarily the result of his hard work or his strategic planning.
We could speculate that God purposely expanded the harvest that year, which begs the question of why would he do that if he objected to the guy’s plans to build bigger barns to store more bounty? Maybe he wanted Farmer Rich-Guy to give some or all of it away or to bring unemployed people into his business and teach them how to farm so they can make a better living of their own. Got more than you deserve? Share some with some neighbors––what a concept!
Just because we win the lottery doesn’t man God wants us to be rich!
I have a friend who lives a very Spartan existence. At one point he came into a small fortune from an insurance settlement and felt that God wanted him to give almost all of it away within a year’s time, which he did. He didn’t assume that the money was his to do what he wanted to do. He saw it as an opportunity to give more to people who needed it more than he did.
“I have no room to store my crops” Augustine said of this parable, “The rich fool didn’t realize the bellies of the poor were much safer storerooms than his barns.” In other words it’s better to give than to gather!
Jesus doesn’t object to six-figure incomes. It’s the six-figure lifestyle in a world where children are starving that troubles him.
I have some other friends who decided while they were in college that they would live at or below the poverty level for the rest of their lives in order to follow Jesus simply and have more to give away. They’ve done just that for over 40 years even while raising two girls, both of whom now in their adult lives have chosen careers that serve the poor.
It’s better to give than to gather!
Viv Grigg advises: “Earn much, consume little, hoard nothing, give generously, and celebrate life.” Before we self-destruct, American Christians (so-called) need to hear and respond to Jesus calling.
Let’s leave it that till next time when we talk about eating, drinking, and being merry!
On another note, if you’re making a list of New Year’s resolutions, I have a suggestion for you. For me, I resolve not to any more Christmas cookies until next Christmas! Besides that, I want to share Christ with more people and in a more effective way. You too?
I’ve written a book to help us do that very thing, called Reaching Rahab: Joining God In His Quest For Friends. Keep an eye out for it in the next few weeks on Amazon. In the meantime, consider asking God what he wants on your resolutions list. Who knows, if enough of us resolve to share more of Jesus more often more effectively this year, maybe our resolutions will initiate a revolution!
2 Replies to “Confronting Compulsive Consuming (Part 2)”