If I were to be honest with myself, I can see that I’m often no better than the rich fool who suddenly died in Jesus’ parable. Who wouldn’t want to be rich enough to live an easy life without worrying about one’s material needs?
Isn’t this how we envision our retirement to be?
We work so diligently each day with the thought that we’d no longer need to worry about our future. We want to look forward to the day when we finally have enough money to do the things we dreamed of doing: traveling the world, fulfilling our bucket list, and enjoying each day without stressing about work.
But why did it have to result in such a tragic end? What’s so bad about the rich man’s disposition in life? Doesn’t God want us to be practical enough to meet our material needs? Should we always be poor if we desire to go to heaven?
Let’s take a look at the following Bible verses:
“The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21 (NRSVCE)
I think that God wants us to avoid a greater evil we may not immediately see.
It’s not that a good retirement is bad. Nor is it thinking about a good future for ourselves and our loved ones.
But the rich man’s thinking is corrupted in such a way that he thought like a fool. His mind was far away from wisdom, and his heart had no room for good seeds to grow.
Here are the reasons why the rich man thought foolishly in life:
1. He did not consider the fleetingness of life
The rich man never thought that his life would one day come to an end. He thought only about amassing wealth and reaping a pleasurable life after.
In short, he put all his security in material riches. He did not foresee that his wealth could never save him from death, a death that could come at any moment without warning.
“And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” – Matthew 6:27 (NRSVCE)
2. He had the wrong priorities
The rich man regarded achieving financial stability as the most important thing in life. After knowing that he had enough to live a life of ease and pleasure, he no longer thought about his eternal destiny.
It isn’t wrong to work for our daily needs. What’s wrong is to lose sight of God and of our spiritual salvation along the way.
If we don’t know how long our lives would be, why give more importance to things that cannot last? Isn’t it wiser to focus on heavenly treasures?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 (NRSVCE)
3. He had no love for neighbor in his heart
The rich man was a fool because he only loved himself. He saw only his comforts and financial stability.
When he had more than his barns could contain, he did not think about sharing his blessing with others. He sought only to secure everything for himself.
Even if we become the richest man in the world, all that would be for nothing if had no love for our neighbor.
Only love can give meaning to our lives. And only that can last for eternity.
“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33 (NRSVCE)
Some of the good things in this life can keep us away from God if we fail to acknowledge where they came from and how we should make use of them.
God knows our needs and He will always provide for His children. We should trust the Giver rather than the gifts.
Let us not allow our hearts to be so attached to earthly riches that we lose sight of our heavenly home.
“For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?” – Mark 8:36-37 (NRSVCE)