Jesus loved to use stories. If you haven’t read one lately I encourage you to open up a Bible to Luke 12:13-21. There you find our Messiah utilizing a parable, or story meant to teach a central idea. We have a story about a fool. A rich fool steeped in the evidence of God, benefitting from God’s kindness financially. The man seemingly has everything he’s ever wanted and more, and yet, how does he deal with God’s blessings towards him?
The rich fool of Jesus’ parable asks a question when he sees his endless agrarian returns, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” (v. 17 ESV) We are not told that he was an abusive man, nor a cheat, nor was he observably a pagan. If we were to encounter him on the street, we might presume him a successful businessman, lawyer or some other official; he would blend in. So where was his error? Money.
Money is a tool that can be used for good or evil for “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” (1 Timothy 6:10 ESV) Not money itself. As another pastor said, “It’s not wrong to have stuff. It’s a problem when the stuff has you.” The tumor in this man’s heart was rooted in his false hope: his wealth.
Socrates’ wisdom from ancient Greece still rings true today, “Know Thyself.” This man did not. He is simply in love with himself. Every aspect of his world is burned at the fiery altar of his heart’s great object of affection, himself. His great hope was his ability. His great comfort were his accomplishments. He didn’t worship God, he worshipped his success, comfort, and ability to provide.
What is all too often forgotten is that at our core, our heart is designed for worship. And so the natural question to consider is not “Am I worshiping?” but “What am I worshiping?” (e.g., success, sex, money, drugs, religion for religion’s sake). The Heidelberg Catechism teaches, “Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place or alongside of the only true God …” (Q. & A. 95) The fool makes the false assumption that what he has in this world is following him into death. You know it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that you can’t play VHS tapes on Blu-ray players; there is an inherent incompatibility. In the same way, the material goods we benefit will be of no use to us when we die. The fool finds himself sadly believing otherwise, and if not with his own words, his very actions are preaching this.
In his own observations of this text St. Augustine (AD 354-430) said, “Do we wish to have a bad home? No indeed, but a good one. Or a bad wife? No but a good one. Or a bad cloak? Or even a bad shoe? Why then a bad soul alone?” The only reason we value our souls so little, like this fool is because we do not properly understand the great weightiness and value of our soul.
Jesus said, “…what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 ESV) Are you caring for your soul today? Friend, you may die today. Are you prepared to stand before God? Only through Christ can you pass God’s tribunal. Only in Christ can you be pardoned. I implore you contemplate these words by the missionary Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The most valuable thing you have is your soul. How are you using it? Is it being strengthened by prayer? Comforted by God’s Spirit? Nourished by the Sacraments? Challenged and confronted by God’s Word from the Pulpit? Is your soul growing worse by virtue of laziness. Let us not be careless with the most precious thing under our watch. And as parents, let us not be lazy with the little ones whom God has made us stewards over. Come to Christ and your souls shall live.