Luke 12:15–21 15And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16And 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. 19And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Conventional wisdom in the western world says that people need a good job and commitment to preparing for retirement, not just relying on Social Security or even pension plans. Disciplined contributions to an IRA or a 401K is forward thinking, paying off with financial security that gives you years to enjoy sightseeing, relaxation, and the opportunity to live the good life that you’ve earned.
When reading the parable shared by Jesus in Luke 12, it appears that His warning applies to a mindset prevalent in today’s world. Although Jesus does not condemn financial discipline and planning for the future, He wants people to know that success in life involves more than monetary security and the freedom to be self-gratifying. People can be very “successful” in the opinion of those firmly anchored to this world and the goodies it provides. However, the condition of their soul in preparation for life and eternity is a different matter.
Short-sighted fixations on this world and the comfort and ease in life it has the potential to provide, are common goals and aspirations. Sadly, those who seek their joy and fulfillment from what this world offers will come up short in eternity. When Jesus is central in our focus, this means His way, His truth, and His life are sustaining us through the heartache, pain, and afflictions of life, this is the biblical wisdom of devotion and dependence on Jesus.
Jesus asks the pertinent question, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36) Self-denial for the sake of pouring out one’s life to promote life lived well for Jesus to the glory of God in this life and for eternity, is the best investment. We must be willing to trust God in this life and for life to come. Being firmly fixed to living by gospel grace for the glory of God and the gospel good of others is the wisest and most secure investment we can make. “31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:31–33)
The wisdom of those devoted to the world and what it offers is very different from the biblical wisdom embraced by those devoted to God because of Jesus. Faithful followers of Jesus are banking on the eternal goodness of their God and are willing to persevere through trials and afflictions in life for the glory of the Lord and the gospel truth and hope they can share with others. Don’t be a fool – follow Jesus!