A crowd gathered around Jesus and a man asked Jesus to rule over a family inheritance and to stipulate the division of the property. Jesus said to them, “Take care. Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
The land of a rich man produced abundantly. He thought to himself, “What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?” He wanted to hold on to what he did not need. He does not consider giving the gleaners a “holiday”, that is, to harvest the field rather than gleaning from the field. He does not consider donating to the needy the surplus he has acquired..
The man decides to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. He will store all of his grain and good in them. With no one to pat him on the back for arriving at such a fine decision, he pounds his chest and says to his soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years, relax, eat, drink and be merry.” He finally has built up a large enough fortune that he feels he can finally retire and enjoy life. Perhaps he has scrimped and saved to amass his wealth. Perhaps this is just the bumper crop he had been waiting for to insure that he was set for the future. Regardless he comes to the conclusion that he can take life easier so that he can enjoy what he has worked so hard to attain.
The problem is that God has other plans for the man! Jesus states, “God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared whose will they be?’” The man had been so busy trying to amass his fortune that he had not enjoyed life along the way. Seemingly he was dying intestate. Not only would he be unable to enjoy his wealth, but no one whom he loved or to whom he was related would benefit from his estate. He had been so busy with the present that he had not made plans for the future. There is a saying that you never see a hearse towing a U-haul trailer. In other words, we cannot take our earthly treasures with us to heaven.
Jesus concludes the parable by saying, “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” Sometimes we can become so focused on this life that we fail to contemplate the future. We can be so concerned with accumulating money and material goods that we do not lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven …such as having shared with the needy, having come to the help of those in distress, having spent time in reading God’s Word and in prayer, having visited the sick or those imprisoned, having comforted the grieving and encouraging those who have lost hope. While we cannot take our earthly treasures with us when we depart this life, we can send our spiritual treasures on ahead so that our good deeds are duly noted in the Book of Life. (See Malachi 3:16-18)
Merciful and Gracious God, forgive us when we have amassed material wealth and have been poor in spiritual treasures. Help us to make wise choices in our daily lives so that our wealth does not encumber us and that we build up for ourselves treasures in heaven which do not deteriorate nor can be stolen. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.