“Fool! This day your life will be required of you!” (Luke 12:20)
Once there was a rich fool, Jesus tells us. We don’t know if he started off as a fool, but for certain something happened that made him that way. One year his farm was so productive that his barns were full, his storage bins were full, and his silo was full. His harvest was so great that he was dumping it on big heaps on the ground.
He decided to solve the problem by tearing down every building he had built and replacing them with ones newer, bigger, and better. In fact, the way he calculated it, his harvest was so successful he would never have to work again. It was now time to just kick up his feet and party for the rest of his life.
And that’s when God calls him a fool.
It sure would be nice to win the lottery or find the estate of a long-lost uncle, but would it really be a blessing? In the neighborhood where Jesus lived it was assumed (as is sometimes assumed today) that if someone had riches, it was a sign that God held him in special regard. While we don’t want to talk for God, common experience should inform us that this isn’t always the case. The wicked often do prosper. The fact is, this man had something unusual but pleasant happen to him (sudden, great riches), yet he is held forth as a miserable failure.
If we’re looking for a reason for this verdict, the text hints at the answer: “So is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Verse 21)
This is not to suggest that prosperity and wealth are of themselves a special kind of evil. Nor is the intent to limit the discussion to riches alone. The intent here is to illustrate that whenever God or the vagaries of life hand us good things, whether monetary or otherwise, they are essentially worthless and definitely meaningless if we want to hoard everything for ourselves. Blessings only take on meaning if our vision is greater than ourselves.
This rich fool had great material wealth, but that was only part of the story. His wealth also freed up time. That time could have been used to serve others. He was clearly a man of talent, or else he would not have been such a successful farmer. But he used his time, talent, and treasure to serve himself. This is where he failed. This is where he was a fool. Taking your time, talent, and treasure and hoarding it all up for yourself does advances the Kingdom of God not one whit. Great blessings can be curses if the center of attention is inward.
Whether it’s your time, talent, or treasure, use those gifts to honor God. Enjoy them, exercise them, but do all to the glory of God.