Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
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 12:13-21
If the slogan in the title is familiar, you probably watch the same weather coverage that I watch. I guess I am officially old when I watch the weather all day long even though I only go outside to get the mail. Okay, we shop occasionally.
But this is not about the quirks of old people, it is about human nature, our sin nature. The parable of the rich fool is well known. Of all the reactions to a bumper crop that could be made, building bigger barns is a logical one. Another slogan comes to mind – Go Big or Go Home. Our greed takes over.
When there is hurricane coverage on my favorite channel, I watch it even more intently. There have been so many floods this year. There have been so many fast-water rescues that would not have been necessary if people followed the instructions. Turn around. Don’t drown. Violating that slogan puts you in harm’s way and the people rescuing you.
Yet, I remember when Hurricane Frances soaked SW Pennsylvania and then Hurricane Ivan caused widespread floods in 2004. There simply was nowhere for the water to go. As the company safety man, I advised the company president to let everyone leave early. All the companies in our industrial complex had let their people go at lunchtime. I was laughed out of his office. We had to stay busy. We had to make money. I think most employees spent the afternoon checking road conditions on the internet. Few did any work. The roads got worse. When I left, my usual way home was washed out. I stayed along ridgelines, driving through water-covered roads, but only by an inch or two. I could still see the road. Of course, there could be water flowing beneath the road, making the surface weak and I could have fallen into a sinkhole, but I risked it – not too many sinkholes in PA, mineshafts that cave in, but few sinkholes. My secondary route home was blocked with barricades. Another closed road. I then tried a thirty-mile detour. Understand, the way home was nine miles on a dry day, and I had already driven about 15 miles. The thirty-mile detour included the only road into my home town that had not been closed. I think public safety had run out of barricades. I drove through water several inches deep. I could not see the road, but the rushing water in the ditches gave me an idea that the road was the still water between the ditches. I made it home, but I risked my life in doing so. This is before we got cell phones. My wife was worried sick.
I was thinking of this when one of the many field reporters approached an approaching SUV. He gave his report to the man in the SUV that the water is rising rapidly. The road is unsafe, now. It is only going to get worse. Turn around. Don’t drown. Nothing is worth the danger of proceeding down the road.
The driver explained that he was going to check on his property and the meteorologist was not a member of public safety. He then drove out of sight, slowly, down a road covered with at least a foot of water and getting deeper.
Was he successful in getting home? Once he got there, was there anything he could do about the damage with no electrical power? Did he make it out again, alive, without being rescued?
I was a Safety Coordinator, Manager, and finally Director for our company. The title changed to impress customers who wanted to know how serious our company was about safety. Believe me; the company could not spell safety. But at a customer’s site, when someone had gotten hurt by not following the rules, the project manager told me, “Don’t beat yourself up. You run the best safety program around, but you cannot prevent stupid.”
Was the rich fool more of a fool or just greedy? Was the home owner going to do something worthwhile at the property he owned or was he just arrogant, stupid, greedy, whatever? And here’s the bottom line, who really owns this world of ours and everything in it? God does. If He tests us by allowing Satan to remove, from our grasp, possessions that are really God’s, we need to learn how to praise Him in the midst of the loss.
If the rich fool had seen a bumper crop and thought, “Hey, I have extra. I have no where to put it, so I’ll feed the poor. I will have them all come over and we’ll celebrate and praise God. I don’t need the extra anyway.” What would have happened then? He would not have been considered the rich fool, for one thing, maybe foolish in the modern worldview. For another, the good will among his neighbors would have given him more blessings in the long run than anything gained by building bigger barns. And he would have paid respect and honor to the God who provided the good weather, rich soil, and fruitful seed.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.