A PARABLE ON THE VANITY OF RICHES

 

 

Thank you for taking the time to visit this site.  In this series “The Parables” we are studying the parables of Jesus Christ, which he taught to his disciples.  They cover many different areas of the Christian way of life and give us positive direction and instruction into the principles of the kingdom.  In many parables he says, “the kingdom of heaven is like unto” or a similar phrase to let us know what he is about to teach is spiritual and relates to the kingdom of God as it pertains to us.  These teachings, even though they are simple at a glance, are very profound and deep.  They are God’s revealed truth that have been kept secret from the beginning of the world!

 

“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: [17] And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? [18] And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. [19] And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. [20] But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? [21] So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:16-21 (KJV) 

 

A Farmer and his Crop

 

Much has been said by the master teacher Jesus Christ about money and its’ influence upon people.  Unfortunately most of what he said was in a negative light.  In other words his teachings give us warning after warning about the potential for money and riches (whatever your definition of riches) to corrupt and defile spiritually.  This parable is no exception.  It starts off with the setting of a farmer and his land.  As all farmers will know, every year is not a bumper year, meaning there were many crops that suffered from drought, pests or other things.  He never gave up though and finally his ship came in!  At some point all of his faithfulness and diligence paid off.  He harvested a bumper crop.  This crop was huge.  It was enough for him to be able to say, “I’m wealthy and have need of nothing.”

 

Before we go further into this though we need to see that Jesus was not saying that it is wrong to work and make money. Neither did he say that becoming rich was wrong.  He did however speak of the fact that many are searching for wealth without the right attitude and that it is evil and wrong.  What Jesus is teaching us is that our attitude about things is most important.  The wise man Solomon who had much wealth gave us a revealing bit of truth that will show us much about the right attitude.

 

“Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. [5] Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.” Proverbs 23:4-5 (KJV) 

 

If you notice here, he was making more emphasis on the attitude of wealth than on the wealth itself.  For the person who makes it a goal to be rich there will certainly be many troubles.

 

Question #1  Do you desire to be rich?  Why?

 

He Thought Within Himself

 

“And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?”

 

Now that my ship has come in what will I do?  These and many other thoughts went through this man’s mind as he considered what to do with his newly found wealth.  I suppose all of us have thought within ourselves and considered some of these same questions.  Questions like “What will I do with my life?” or “What do I want to achieve in life?”  Hopefully our answers will be the right ones.  Adults are not the only ones who deal with this attitude, many times young people have hopes and dreams that are not based in reality.  That’s not a put down at all.  Many great achievers started their dreams when they were young.  Some started out with the right attitude about riches – others did not.  The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and addressed this very subject.  Can we glean knowledge from his experience?

 

“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” 1 Tim. 6:9 (KJV) 

 

Jesus also spoke of this dangerous attitude and gave an even stronger message to us.

 

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [24] And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24 (KJV) 

 

Wow, what a straightforward statement!  Does this mean that all rich people will not be in heaven.  Of course the answer is no, yet it does imply that many will not be there.  Many great men of the Bible were very rich people.  They include Job, Abraham, Moses, and Jacob.  What he meant is that the attitude we have toward riches is very important.  It can cause us to miss heaven if we aren’t careful.  The farmer in this parable thought about the attitude he would have.  His conclusion is very telling not only by what he said but what he didn’t say.

 

“And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. [19] And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”

 

What he did say eight times was the words “I” and “MY”.  Can you get a picture of his attitude by what he said?  Not once does the word God or Lord appear.  His attitude toward money didn’t include others.  Not once did he say anything about giving some of his money to the poor and needy or to the work of God.  His whole focus was himself.  In these few words the danger of a selfish attitude is brought out clearly and forcefully.  He wanted to be rich so he could bless himself from now on. 

 

If you became rich today, what would your first thoughts be?  Would they be, “Let’s have a party?” or would they be “Let’s thank God for his blessings and seek his will for this money?”  A rich young man came to Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to go to heaven.  Jesus told him to keep the commandments.  He proudly responded that he had done this from his youth.  “What do I lack?” was his next question.  Even though he asked, he really didn’t want the answer that Jesus lovingly gave him.

 

“Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. [23] And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” Luke 18:22-23 (KJV)

 

He came face to face with his inner thoughts and motives.  For so long he had masked them with his religious involvement and maybe even some charity giving and suddenly saw himself and his own inner motives.  He didn’t like what he saw.  Can we take the time to examine our own inner thoughts to see if they are right or not?

 

Question #2  What would you do if you became rich today?  Be honest.

 

What Did God Have to Say to This Man?

 

While this farmer was thinking within himself and making plans for the future; in heaven God was speaking.  Unfortunately this man was too busy thinking within himself about what he would do with HIS money that he couldn’t hear the voice of the Lord.

 

“But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”

 

In this parable Jesus is stressing the importance of having the right attitude about riches and life in general.  The truth is that none of us know the day or hour that we will die.  We do know however that some day each of us will die.  What will happen to all of the hard work and money that has been set aside?  Will it go with us or will it stay?  Surprisingly, the right answer may not be as easy as you think.  What do you think is the right answer to this question?  Is our wealth and riches destined to stay here in this world?  Think about it and come up with your own answer before you go any further because I am going to give you the answer next.  No peeking.

 

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: [20] But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: [21] For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 (KJV) 

 

Did you get the right answer?  The right answer is your riches can go with you or they can stay here.  The choice is yours!  We can lay up treasures in heaven or on this earth.  Notice I didn’t say you can take your money with you, I did say however that you can invest it.  From this parable we can see what happens when we lay up riches here on this earth.  Solomon the richest man of his time experienced the depression and vanity of laying up riches in this life.

 

“Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me. [19] And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity. [20] Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.” Eccles. 2:18-20 (KJV) 

 

He came to the conclusion that all of his work would be given to the man who would follow him.  What if he is a fool?  Will he waste all of my hard earned money?  These thoughts made him hate his labor and even hate life itself.  In fact his own son who followed him after his death was a fool and destroyed much of Solomon’s prosperity.  Was it worth it?  Not when the attitude is wrong.  He ultimately came to his final conclusion and it still speaks to us today.

 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. [14] For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Eccles. 12:13-14 (KJV) 

 

Solomon finally came to the place where he brought God into the equation.  If you will notice, every time we build up treasures without God there is no meaning and purpose to it.  There is nothing long lasting and solid.  The farmer of this parable never brought God into his life.  His whole attitude centered on self.  This is ultimately where we end up without God and his eternal perspective.  God said, “thou fool tonight you will die.”  What an empty ending to an otherwise fulfilled and happy life.  He could have laid up his wealth in heaven but he left it all behind and had nothing to show for it in eternity.  If you please, he worked hard for nothing.  It doesn’t have to end this way for us; there is a better way.  Fear God and keep his commandments, this is what brings life and peace.

 

Question #3 Can you see the vanity of riches without the right attitude?  Do you feel that God should be included in the financial part of your life?

 

Conclusion

 

We know that some people in the Bible were rich.  Yet we know that each of them had a close relationship with God and were willing to give it all away if God required it of them.  Their attitudes were right and therefore they were greatly blessed.  The farmer in this parable had a self-centered attitude that included no one but himself.  He lost it all because of his wrong way of thinking.  Truly, riches are vain.  The Bible however speaks of another kind of riches.

 

“If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” Luke 16:11 (KJV)

 

“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!” Proverbs 16:16 (KJV) 

 

True riches can be found in the word of God.  The principles of the Word of God are of much greater blessings than any physical riches we may possess.  Would you like to have the true riches?  Jesus has them for us through a personal relationship in which you can be happy even when you don’t have much in this life.  If you would like to know more about this happiness we would like to help you find it.  There is someone in your area that would love to help you in any way possible.  Please leave us a way to contact you and we will be happy to get in touch with you.  You may do this by clicking here. 

 

Also, I would love to hear your thoughts about this study.  Was it a blessing to you?  Let me know it would be a great source of encouragement to me.  Feel free to check out any of the other lessons on this site and if you know a friend who would be blessed let them know too!  The study on “Financial Freedom” may be of interest to you too!  Thanks for stopping by.

 

Sincerely,

 

Greg Wirths

 

Focus on Freedom

 

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23 Responses to A PARABLE ON THE VANITY OF RICHES

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      I,m not sure how you do that. All you have to do is leave a comment on the bottom of any post or page. Also to subscribe to the newsletter look at the bar on the right side of the post or page and you will find it.

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