“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 12:16-21)
Have you ever been outside your country? Have you ever visited some of the poorest of the poor in another country or in the inner-cities of your own country? If you have seen the reality of poverty in our world today, like I have, you will view this passage differently.
I have to be honest. Years ago, I read these verses in Luke and thought other people were the greedy ones. Some of Jesus’ parables are confusing, but this one he explains right off the bat in verse 15. The whole point of telling a story about a rich guy who keeps all his “grain and goods” to himself is to warn us against all kinds of greed. And a while back I always thought that meant others. I am not really rich, right? I don’t have to worry about this.
Now I am convinced this rich fool is me—and maybe you. I have seen up close too many people who are suffering from poverty, disease, disasters, and bloody warfare, that I cannot pretend anymore. How can you or I say that we are not greedy if we eat three enormous meals a day while a third of the world’s population starves? How can we live in our huge, comfortable houses while billions have nothing? I ate an ice-cream cone last week that cost as much as a farmer in some of our countries makes in a week to feed his family.
So what are we going to do about it? We can continue as rich fools or we can begin to live more simply so that others may simply live. We can store our possessions or learn to share and sacrifice in order to truly change the world.
“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”