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The Parable of the Rich Fool

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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November 20, 2022 12:01 am

The Parable of the Rich Fool

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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November 20, 2022 12:01 am

Greed dishonors God by refusing to be grateful. Today, R.C. Sproul continues his series in the gospel of Luke, focusing on Jesus' parable about a man whose treasure was in the wrong place.

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Today on Renewing Your Mind, R.C. Sproul preaches from the Gospel of Luke. A Christian is a generous person. How can a Christian not be a generous person? For every Christian lives and moves and has his or her being only by the generosity of Almighty God. What do you have that you haven't received from God? In the parable of the rich fool, Jesus reveals the heart of a man whose treasure is in the wrong place. He builds for himself and keeps it for himself. It's a hard look at the potential we all have to value our possessions and comfort more than God Himself.

Here's Dr. Sproul. Well, we're going to continue this morning with our study of the gospel according to St. Luke. We're in the twelfth chapter, and for those of you who are not inclined to give to the stewardship campaign, you may want to leave because I didn't plan it this way, but in the providence of God, Luke happens to be giving us our Lord's instruction about matters that relate to these sort of things.

But in any case, I'll be reading from chapter 12, beginning at verse 13 and reading through verse 21. Then one from the crowd said to him, Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. But he said to him, Man, who made me a judge or an arbitrator over you? And he said to them, Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses. Then he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully, and he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops? So he said, I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years.

Take your ease. Eat, take, and be merry. But God said to him, Fool, this night your soul will be required of you. Then whose will those things be which you have provided?

And so is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. This is not my teaching, beloved. This is the teaching of our Lord and Savior, the very Son of God, who challenges us at our very soul in terms of our stewardship and of our priorities. He speaks tenderly, though firmly, the things that the Father has authorized him to say. Please receive this as the Word of God. Let us pray. Our Father and our God, we have encircled our loins, covered our chests with the shield not only to protect ourselves from the fiery darts of the devil but also to shield ourselves from the sharp words that come from your lips. Penetrate that shield, O God. Pierce our hearts with the sanctity and the truth of Your Word, for we ask it in Jesus' name.

Amen. So many times when Luke tells us of discourses that Jesus gives to a crowd, we find that somebody in the crowd interrupts him and abruptly changes the subject. So there was this young man on this occasion who wasn't all that interested in hearing what Jesus would have to say about other matters. He had a personal concern that was heavy upon his heart, and he was hoping that Jesus would help him solve his dilemma. And so as Jesus was speaking, we read that one from the crowd said to him, Rabbi, tell my brother to share or divide the inheritance with me. This young man was concerned about the legacy that had been left by his father that was to be shared by two sons, the elder and the younger.

And apparently the younger one was not at all satisfied with the division of that estate. And now he was taking advantage of Old Testament law, which ruled that if there were a dispute among heirs about participation in an inheritance, that that dispute could be solved by the judgment of a rabbi. And so this young man comes to Jesus, not to hear the Word of God, but to get his judgment. And he's trying to get Jesus' judgment on his side of the dispute that the rabbi Christ would declare a greater inheritance for the man. And Jesus said to him, man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over thee? Now Jesus was recognized as a rabbi because of the profundity of his teaching, that there's little reason to believe that he had gone through the formal steps of becoming officially a rabbi and would be in an official capacity to render a verdict in this dispute over the inheritance. And Jesus, of course, at this point in his ministry was much more concerned about proclaiming the kingdom of God rather than settling disputes among siblings over the degree of their inheritance. And so Jesus said to the people as well as to the man, take heed and beware.

Now we've heard him say that recently. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. Beware of hypocrisy. But now his concern is different from that over hypocrisy and Pharisees. What he's saying now is something else. Beware of covetousness.

Let me stop just there for a second. I don't know many times in my experience as a seminary professor saying to my students, if the United States of America's Constitution should crumble and you were asked to write a new constitution for the United States of America and you could only include ten laws in that new constitution, what ten laws would you institute? Well, most of them would put in there a law against murder. Some would put in a law against theft. I can't imagine that anybody in our contemporary culture would use up one of his ten laws to prohibit the profaning of the name of God and how many would include a law against coveting. Not only do we not have laws against coveting, we have a political system that thrives on it and promotes it by promoting entitlement policies and class warfare. And when God established a nation in His top ten, He included a law against coveting. Do you ever wonder why God in His infinite wisdom would include a law against coveting in the top ten commandments that He gives? Maybe God knows something about what it is that leads to stealing. Maybe God knows something about what it is that leads to jealousy.

Maybe God knows something of what it is that leads to murder and to war when people are at each other's throat because one person has more than the other, and one person wants for himself what God in His beneficence has graciously bestowed upon someone else. I want your money. I want your car. I want your job.

I want your wife. Because the problem, dear friends with covetousness, is that it reveals something about the darkest part of our fallen humanity. In the very first chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans, he points out at the beginning, beginning at verse 18, how that God has revealed Himself manifestly and clearly to every human being on this planet.

And He's given that knowledge of Himself to everyone in a way that they cannot miss it. And yet the universal response of fallen humanity to God's self-revelation is to repress it and to deny it. And so God brings the whole human race to His tribunal and convicts the whole human race of two fundamental things, the two most basic sins of all of us. The first is the refusal to honor God as God, and second is the refusal to be grateful. No one can honor God and have a heart full of gratitude to Him and be covetous. Covetousness is the antithesis of contentment with the goodness of God. When you have something that I don't and I want it, I am saying, God, I'm not grateful for what You've given to me.

I want more and more and more. You see, covetousness is the first cousin, no, the father of greed, of wanting more than you actually have. Jesus says, take heed, beware of this. Be careful.

Watch out for this. For one's life, He says, does not consist in the abundance of things that He possesses. Now, here's a word from Jesus. This is not R.C.

Sproul talking. This is Jesus. One's life does not consist in the things that He possesses. I talked to a professing Christian several years ago. I asked him what the goal of his life was. He said to me, my goal is to be worth $50 million by the time I'm 50 years old.

You could have blown me over with a feather. What? A Christian? Defining the meaning and the significance of his life by his bank account?

Are you kidding me? I just didn't think that was possible. But that man thought that his life consisted in what he possessed. Well, Jesus goes on by speaking a parable. Maybe he didn't think they were getting it in the abstract. So in order to emphasize his point and to clarify it, he told a story.

Listen to the story. The ground of a certain rich man yielded meagerly, no, no, plentifully. And now Jesus gives us an inner soliloquy of this man who had a bumper crop.

He thought within himself saying, self, what do I do now? This is the biggest crop I've ever had. It's a bonanza. I was rich before the crop came in, and now I'm richer than I ever imagined I could be.

What am I going to do? Because I don't have any room to store my crops. I've been blessed with more crops than I can handle. I don't know what to do with them.

So he thought and he thought and he thought within himself, and he says, wow, I got it. I'm going to tear down my barns, and I'm going to build bigger barns. And when I have the bigger barns, I'll be able to take care of all of my produce. And then I will say to my soul, soul, you have many goods laid up for many years. You have a terrific net worth, enough to last you, not for a day or week or a month or a year, but for decades to come. Now you can take it easy.

You can eat, drink, and be merry. Three things I want to say about this rich man. The first thing was he was greedy. No matter how great the crop was, no matter how much he had in storage, he wanted more. Bunker Hunt, when he cornered the silver market years ago, was called to testify before Congress, and somebody said to him, Mr. Hunt, what is your net worth?

And Bunker smiled, and he said, I don't know. If you know your net worth, it can't be very much. And billionaires have been interviewed and say, what drives you? Don't you have enough money yet? Then they'll say, how much do you want?

Then they say, just a little bit more. Unlike the Apostle Paul who found whatever state he was, therein to be content. Most of us are never content with what we have.

We want more. No wonder that greed historically is considered one of the seven deadly sins, and in one of the accounts was the number one deadly sin. The second thing we learned about this man was that he was unbelievably selfish. There's not a hint in here that he wanted to share anything out of his abundance with other people. For him, charity was not an option.

All he could think about was how he could hold on to and keep everything that he had earned. I wonder if it would say on his tombstone, here was a selfish man. A Christian is a generous person. How can a Christian not be a generous person? For every Christian lives and moves and has his or her being only by the generosity of Almighty God.

What do you have that you haven't received from God? But the selfish person says, give me, give me, give me, give me, give me, and let me hold it tight lest I lose a penny of it. Jesus warns people about that. That attitude, beloved, can send you to hell forever.

But worse than being greedy and worse than being selfish, this man was foolish, incredibly foolish. Listen to what he says, I will say to my soul, soul, you've many goods laid up now for many years. Take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

You've heard that phrase before, eat, drink, and be merry. How recently was it invented? Not in the affluent 50s or in the roaring 20s. It goes back not only centuries, but millennia. Even before the Epicureans who have debated with the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill in Athens, there was a group called the Siren eggs who invented what was called crass and pure hedonism. Hedonism is defined in this manner. Hedonism says that the good is found in the avoidance of pain and the attainment of pleasure.

And so the Siren eggs creed was get as much pleasure as you possibly can get. Drink to excess, get drunk, get intoxicated, eat to the point of gluttony. Enjoy sex until you're satiated by it because that is the good life that's found in eating and drinking and being merry, let's have a party. Let's be happy.

Let's eat and drink. Well, the Epicurean philosophers came along and said, no, that kind of crass hedonism always ends in frustration. You're either bored or you're frustrated, one or the other. If you get too much pleasure, you're bored, not enough, you're frustrated.

So they said, we have to refine this. We want just enough to drink, just the finest, just enough fun that we'll be Epicureans with fine tastes and keep this level of pleasure at the optimum place. You know, this phrase, eat, drink, and be merry is found somewhere else in Scripture. You may be familiar with it when the Apostle Paul was writing to the Corinthians, some of whom were denying the resurrection of Christ, and what did he say? If Christ is not raised, if there is no resurrection, then let's eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The creed of the American culture is not the apostles' creed. It's the hedonist creed. Let's get it now while we can. You only go around once.

Let's have a party. Eat, drink, and be merry is the creed of the fool. The stupidest thing you could do with your life is to spend it seeking pleasure and avoiding pain when blessedness is yours for the asking.

But by nature, beloved, we are all fools. We really think that the only way we can be happy is to fill our bellies and our bodies and be merry. Now, Jesus said, the reason the man said, eat, drink, and be merry is because he said before that, you have many goods laid up for many years.

So let's have a party. But Jesus said, there's another report, albeit a minority report to be sure. That's the report that comes now from God. But God said to him, fool, it's not many years to come.

You don't have several decades left because I'm going to require of you tonight, not tomorrow, not next year, tonight, the very night that you're having your party, celebrating your security, that night I require your soul. Then whose will those things be which you have provided? Jesus then applies the parable in this manner, so is he who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. Dear friends, the person who lays up treasures for themselves, no matter how great that treasure is, but who is not rich toward God is a pauper.

He's poverty stripped. Now Jesus said elsewhere, what if you gain the whole world, lose your own soul? What will a man give in exchange for his soul? How much is your soul worth?

What's the price tag? He who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God is like the rich fool, greedy, selfish, and foolish. God grant that no one in this room will ever be called greedy, selfish, or foolish by God. Take heed, Jesus says, lest you succumb to covetousness. Is that a challenge to you? It certainly is for me, and it's something we all need to evaluate in ourselves.

And that's one of the reasons Jesus taught in parables, to teach us how we can honor God in this life. We're glad you joined us on this Sunday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Lee Webb. We're making our way through the Gospel of Luke here on the Lord's Day edition of the program. And if you join us every Sunday in the coming months, we will finish the book together. Let me recommend that you take advantage of our resource offer today. Contact us with a donation of any amount, and we will provide you with a digital download of R.C. 's commentary on this Gospel. He explains every passage in the same clear way that he did today, and I think it will be a great help to your study of Luke. To receive it, contact us with a donation of any amount.

You can do that online at The truth of the Christian faith is reaching more and more people around the globe. Here at Ligonier Ministries, we are translating discipleship resources into the world's most spoken languages. For example, Dr. Sproul's series What Did Jesus Do?, which explains the person and work of Christ, is now available in Hindi, a language spoken by more than 600 million people. So when you support Ligonier Ministries, you are helping to translate, publish, and distribute biblical teaching, and all of it so that more people in more places may be awakened to the holiness of God. So on behalf of all of my colleagues here at Ligonier Ministries, thank you. I hope you have a great week, and please make plans to join us again next Sunday for Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-20 12:01:10 / 2022-11-20 12:09:02 / 8

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