16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”– Luke 12:16-21
I can’t read this passage without thinking about Ecclesiastes. For example, in Ecc. 2:18, Solomon says: I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me.
Of course, Solomon realised what the rich man of Jesus’ parable didn’t: Wealth is fleeting. The central message of Ecclesiastes is that, apart from God, ALL of life, every achievement, every success, every great idea, every accomplishment, every discovery, invention, technology and attempt to utopia is, ultimately, futile. Not because it might not succeed; but because it has no lasting value, and it thus has no intrinsic value.
But Jesus explicitly sums up the wisdom of Solomon:
So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God (v. 21)
What a shocking re-evaluation of life! Imagine using this standard for everything we do – and we should, otherwise we risk being called “fool” (άφρων) by God Himself.
And that expression is so powerful: “…rich toward God” (εἰς Θεὸν πλουτῶν). We are not called to simply carry out some chores for God; we’re told to accumulate what He considers to be wealth. Just as we naturally work and plan and invest and strive to gain wealth, we are now, as new creatures in Christ, called to pour our energy to invest in heavenly riches. We’re called to build “spiritual careers”, if I’m allowed the simily.
So, what are we spending our energy, time and resources on? In v.33 Jesus says:
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Sooner or later, my soul and your soul will be required of us. And the frightening reality is that, although we knew, although we were warned, we will still appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10) carrying with a disturbing amount of junk that His purging fire will consume (1 Cor. 3:10-15).
Let’s take some time today to review what we are investing ourselves in. What are our real goals in life? Are we looking forward to one day retiring, chilling out on a nice recliner ready to enjoy the fruits of our labor? Jesus told us that that is what those who do not know God want out of their brief sojourn across the earth.
But we know that we are eternal, and eternity should be the perspective by which we look at and live out our days – as many or as few as we have left.