Am I a Rich Fool?

by Joe Plemon on August 8, 2014

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.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol@inthetrenches July 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Sounds like you have been reading the Bible Joe. Always amazing how our hearts can be pricked. I recently read the story of Zaccheaus in Luke 19 – he was giving 50% of his income to the poor. I too realize I have a long way to go!

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joeplemon July 24, 2011 at 5:34 am

Carol,
Yep. I just need to keep that “filter” turned off. I had forgotten about how Zaccheaus gave away half of his income. Maybe he can be my new role model!

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Dana July 24, 2011 at 7:26 am

Good story and advice! It makes me believe the more we can give, the better our life will be.

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ella July 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm

How can you do that? I can never separate things like that..maybe it’s a female thing 🙂

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Divine @ Travel Wisconsin July 25, 2011 at 5:48 am

This is a great advice for rich people who do not understand how to lift up their lives by being selfish. being a fool on rich people perhaps by not sharing blessings.

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Gholmes July 26, 2011 at 7:42 am

Food for thought this morning.

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joeplemon July 26, 2011 at 8:53 am

@Dana — thanks. You are right: we can never out give God.

@ella — Not sure exactly what you mean by “separate things like that”. But then, my confusion is probably a male thing. 🙂

@Divine — I don’t know that any of us will get to the end of our lives and regret being too generous.

@Gholmes — Thanks!

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Craig Ford July 26, 2011 at 11:45 am

Joe,
I wanted to thank you for writing this article. I think it’s important that we all have opportunities to look in the mirror in light of the scriptures. Thanks for encouraging me to ask the same question.

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joeplemon July 26, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Craig,
Your writing does that to me all of the time. It is nice to be able to reciprocate.

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AaronC July 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I often wonder about “being rich.” I mean, if I saw a homeless man outside my house, would I invite him in for a meal and a night’s rest? I have a family and would worry about their safety. But perhaps that’s just an excuse? WWJD? He’d probably take the man in. And that’s what concerns me — that I would probably not do that. 🙁 I don’t know how to reconcile that with my general ethics and beliefs…

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Alex Humphrey July 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Wow, that’s really good. That hit me harder than I expected it to.

I really enjoy that parable. Like you, I have never considered myself the rich man. And yet, I know I am in the top 10% of humanity.

My security is in how much money I have in the bank, not God. It’s a sobering reality but one I can no longer ignore. Thank you for the reminder, Joe. I really appreciate it.

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joeplemon July 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

@AaronC — Isn’t it amazing that my Bible verse in my morning devotion today was, 1Pe 4:9 “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” Now let me quickly add that I am not trying to make you feel guilty. Years ago, when I traveled alone a lot, I would often pick up hitchhikers. Occasionally, if one needed a place to stay for the night, I would allow him to stay in my home. However, as my wife and I started having children, I felt there were wiser ways to minister, so I started putting people up in a small and inexpensive hotel. My wife started breathing easier, knowing I wasn’t going to be bringing strangers into our home.

@Alex — I am glad this post spoke to you as it did. As you can tell, the Lord has been speaking to me quite a bit recently. Two books which have been instrumental in opening my eyes:
“Radical” by David Platt and “Managing God’s Money” by Randy Alcorn.

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ceejay July 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm

This post definitely touched me, Joe. Like most people, I define wealth as money and material possessions. I’m always looking at the other side of the fence and wondering when I will be as blessed as my rich neighbors. Deep inside, however, I know I have more blessings than most people do. Like you, I am rich. I have a faithful and understanding spouse, a healthy baby, a rewarding job and supportive friends. It’s such a shame that I sometimes take these gifts for granted and look for happiness elsewhere.

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