Am I a Rich Fool?
I don’t know about you, but I have the knack for reading scripture through a filter which allows the truths to go to my head without touching my heart. This filter has enabled me to read Jesus’ story about the rich fool without ever considering if that fool might be me. However, I am now wondering if it is.
Here is the story:
Then He told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops.
He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”‘
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” (Luke 12: 16-21)
My filter at work:
As I have read this story over the years, I have always concluded, “I can’t be that guy. After all, he is rich and I am middle class. Furthermore, his mistake is that he hasn’t prepared for eternity. I have. I am a Christian and am therefore prepared, even if I was to die tonight. Nope. That rich fool is definitely someone else."
But could I be that fool?
Let me assure you that I am not one of those people who goes around looking for reasons to feel guilty. In fact, I pretty much celebrate a guilt free existence. However, I believe that my filter has caused me to misconstrue two truths from this story:
1. I AM rich.
And, if you live in America, you are too. We tend to measure our “richness" by the standard of our friends, neighbors, and anyone who has a bit more than we have. However, the standard, from God’s eyes, is the world. According to the global rich list site, I am in the top 0.78% of the wealthiest people in the world. Stated differently, I am richer than 99.22% of the people in the world. Go ahead…click that link to learn where you stand in a world ranking. I am sure of this: In God’s eyes, I am rich.
2. My security is in my wealth.
“Come on, Joe", you may be thinking. “You give at least 10% of your income to the Lord’s work. Don’t be so tough on yourself." My response is that doing so puts me in the same class as the religious people Jesus referred to who gave “a tiny part of their surplus". (Mat 12:44). The unfiltered truth is that my retirement income (yes, I am retired) allows me to effectively live just like the rich fool. I can sit back and take it easy because my life time cash flow is more than adequate. Yes, I love God and appreciate all He has done for me, but, like the rich fool, I don’t need to look to Him for my daily needs because I am pretty much set for life.
OK. Now what?
My wife and I are currently making plans to incrementally increase our giving and, in the process, begin transferring our security from my retirement income to God. We recently decided to give more to our local church and we are investigating ways to keep bumping our giving. This, for us, is an adventure in faith. Fortunately, we are on the same page in that we both want to keep giving more and more and more. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to give away more than half of our income? Maybe, just maybe, our twilight years will be the most exciting of our journey on planet earth.
I am looking forward to these years as we stretch our faith and see how God’s provisions will meet needs we never before dreamed of.
Am I a rich fool? I will let you decide. But this I know: I don’t want to be.