The Rich Fool (Part 3 of 3)


This third article in The Rich Fool series focuses on what the rich fool really lacks, wisdom. Note that I did not say, knowledge. Fools do not necessarily lack knowledge, or the capacity for knowledge. A fool lacks wisdom, because by definition that is what a fool is, one who lacks wisdom, or the ability to use knowledge appropriately.[1] For convenience sake, let’s restate the story here:

The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crop…. 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 all my goods. And I will say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God. (Luke 12:16-21)

The story is clear that the protagonist is a knowledgeable business man; it is that knowledge about agriculture that brought about his success. But no farmer can make things grow or produce a harvest; that depends upon forces beyond his control. That those forces are favorable to him, should be cause for reflection and thanksgiving. But not so with this man. He attributes his success to the efforts of his own genius, nothing short of arrogance. He should have known better and I tell you why.

Because of the context of the story, the protagonist is most likely a Hebraic farmer, and should be aware of the law of “first fruits,” and the law concerning the Sabbatical Year (Lev. 23: 9; 25:1). The first fruits law, obligates the farmer to bring the first ripe fruits of his farm to the house of the Lord as a thanks offering. The Sabbatical Year law, reminds the farmer that the land needs to rest, and that he does not own the land. God is the true landlord (Ps. 24:1). The farmer is a tenant. He is to work the land for six years, and rest the land on the seventh year. The business man in our story is totally secular and ignores these spiritual obligations. This lack precipitates his demise; it is a testimony of personal spiritual deficit.

Like many of us in our professions, careers and businesses today, the protagonist observes no spiritual duty. He is the self-made man. He did it his way; everything revolves around him. But in the height of success, and amidst business activities, his day of reckoning came. Perhaps, a heart attack at the office, or an accident on the highway, but he is gone from his wealth to face a poor eternity. The giver of life calls him a “fool” and add the ominous words: “This is how it will be with everyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Jim Elliot once said, “He is no fool who gives [up] what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” The material thing we cling to, we must leave, but the spiritual things we embrace we keep for eternity. The fool spends his life hoarding one and neglecting the other.

Author: Michael Dewar, Sr.
Executive Director, Dwelling Place Cleansing


[1] See blog post, The Wise, the Fool, and the idiot.

Published by The Dwelling Place

I am, Michael Dewar, author and director of Dwelling Place and the chief writer. Professionally, I am pastor, Bible teacher, mentor in the spiritual life, a specialist and consultant in church and family conflicts. I also have a background in Social Work (LMSW) and mental healtn.

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