One of the instructions that Jesus gave as He preached the sermon on the mount was for the believers to stop worrying about the basics things of life, which Jesus referred to as – what we desire to eat, the drink we crave for and the clothes that we long to be clothed with. His advice was for us to seek first the kingdom of God and in additions the things that we seek for or desire would be added to us. But the Church has veered in the sense that the bulk of all that is taught and preached today majors on the doctrine of these things (we are not supposed to bother ourselves with) which borders on materialism and wealth and the weightier matters of the real doctrines are been abandoned.
Solomon stated that any lover of silver would never be satisfied with silver. We can see that the “gospel of prosperity” proclaimed today encourages the acquisition of material things; additionally the gospel has been segmented and coined as the “name-it and claim-it gospel”. The general idea is, when you want or desire any material thing, all you have to do is to name it and then claim it as you pray to God. So when we see a Christian with wealth and material gains, we associate all his possessions as gotten by the vehicle of ‘faith’. The ones that are without are said to have no faith or their faith has not grown to that level where they can acquire the said wealth and material possessions.
Two brothers came to Jesus asking Him to arbitrate between them when they had problems with the division of their inheritance. Clearly according to the Law of Moses, the elder brother was meant to get two-third of the inheritance while the younger brother gets a third. To this the younger brother was not satisfied because he was asking for an equal share of the inheritance and therefore approached Jesus to arbitrate between the two brothers on this matter. This was an issue of wealth and material things and clearly there is already a debacle between these two brothers from the same family. Quite preposterous!
Jesus was quick to give an answer to the question using what is called a Socratic method; i.e. answering a question with a question with the result that the student comes either to the desired knowledge by answering the questions or to gain a deeper awareness of the limits of knowledge. He said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” He would rather use this opportunity to address the issue of COVETEOUSNESS, which is the underlining problem between these two brothers. He told them that people should be very cautious and protect themselves against the least bit of greed. Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot. What we teach and preach in the church today is contrary to this specific instruction or warning from our Lord Jesus Christ. Rather we have been encouraged to acquire more and more and more to show forth the splendor of our great God who wants us materially satisfied in this life.
To drive home His point on covetousness, He spoke a parable to his hearers: about the ‘Rich Man’. This person was materially fortunate by God; his land “produced plentifully”. As God continued to bless the man, instead of using his increase to advance the will of God, all he was interested in was managing his increase and accumulating his growing wealth. So the man builds larger barns in place of the existing ones and starts planning an early retirement. Unbeknown to him, this was his last night on planet earth. Jesus then closes the story by saying, “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
One of the lessons of this parable is that we are not to devote our lives to the gathering and amassing of wealth. There is an interesting point made in the parable. God says to the man in the story, “and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” This echoes the thought expressed in Ecclesiastes 2:18 (“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me.”). We see it all the time in people who are singularly devoted to the accumulation of wealth. What happens to all that wealth when they die? It gets left behind to others who didn’t earn it and won’t appreciate it. Furthermore, if money is your controller, it then means God is not because you cannot serve God and money.
The second point of the Parable of the ‘Rich Fool’ is the fact that we are not blessed by God to pile or stash our possessions to ourselves. We have to come to that realization that the blessings of God are meant to flow through us to others in need when it comes to building the kingdom of God. The Bible says if our riches increase, we are not to set our hearts upon it. The Bible also says there is one who gives freely and grows all the richer.
The point is clear, if we honor God with what he has given us, He will bless us with more so that we can honor Him with more. Paul says, “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that having all contentment in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” We are blessed by God, so we can in turn “abound in every good work” and be a blessing in the lives of others. So if God has blessed you with material wealth “set not your heart on it” and “be rich toward God.”
“A great American preacher has said, “Covetousness breeds misery. The sight of houses better than our own, of dress beyond our means, of jewels costlier than we may wear, of stately equipage, and rare curiosities beyond our reach, these hatch the viper brood of covetous thoughts; vexing the poor who would be rich; tormenting the rich who would be richer.” Is not the desire for wealth a thing, which grows with that it feeds upon, so that, the more a man has, the more he still wants? – C H Spurgeon