16 And [Jesus] told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18 "Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I’ll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ‘ 20 "But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
When I read this parable, my attention is drawn to vs. 20; actually to the first part of vs. 20: “God said to him, ‘You fool!’” It is one thing for me, or you, or someone else to look at the way a person lives his life and think him foolish. But it is on a whole other level when GOD says, “you fool.”
The truth is, when I read this story I find it pretty hard to find fault with the rich man. He seems to be pretty wise in the way he runs his business. It would seem that he was rich, and would have remained rich, even if he hadn’t had such a good crop. What storage facilities he had must have already been full, and he just decided to do what businesses do when everything is going great – expand! We can also see that he was planning for his future. Verse 19 sounds like a retirement plan to me. In many ways this guy was living the American dream!
But, you see, the problem with him is that he doesn’t include God in his view of life. If you read the passage carefully, it becomes clear that there is a big “I” in the center of the story. He thinks he is in charge. Even though the parable explicitly says, "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop” the farmer himself takes the credit. And God sees right through it. The big hint is in the use of the word “fool.” Psalm 51 starts this way: “The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." Perhaps the most important thing in the story is that, even though the rich man doesn’t acknowledge God, God still rules. “This very night your life will be demanded from you.” God doesn’t need the man’s permission or cooperation. What God says is. It is neither this man’s acceptance nor the acceptance of any man that makes God sovereign. God IS God.
In Deut. 8:17-18 it says: “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” That’s good advice. Frankly, anything else would be just plain foolish!
--- Pastor Keith Andrews