Then someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But Jesus said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator between you two?” Then he said to them, “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” He then told them a parable: “The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop, so he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat, drink, celebrate!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.”
What’s Wrong Here?
The parable of the Rich Young Ruler and the question that prompts it all ways stand out in my mind. When I get to them in the Gospels my initial reaction is always “what’s wrong with that?”. A man who wants the inherentence it seems he has the right to, and another man who just wants to enjoy the money he has earned.
Some Reflection on my Own Life
This time when going over the parable I’m reflecting on my own situation. I’m inbetween commands, waiting to arrive at my new duty station to enter into a job I know will be tough. On top of this my parents in law and their health is on my mind. I can’t help thinking about how I can be a great employee, boss and husband. I want to be the best and I keep finding myself obsessing over things like how I can have just enough coffee to keep me motivated during the day or what instructions I can read over and master so I can be on top of my game. Or what strategy I can use to keep my Sailors trained and better prepared for this job and their futures…
The Rich Young Ruler’s Problem
Back to the parable. The rich young ruler and the man asking the question in verse 13 have a similar issue according to Jesus. Jesus sees the man asking for his inherentence is sitting in front of the Messiah Himself and is covered with his own sin. Yet his mind is fixated on his wallet, he is confident if he can just get this right he can be a good guy maybe he’ll even give a boatload to Jesus, what’s wrong with that? Similarly the rich young ruler is fixated on his wallet, he has a built in need for God yet his future plans are summed up in the words “eat, drink and be merry”. Jesus sees this life road map is destined for an utterly hopeless place. Unless a person’s hope in set in the right place he has no real possibility of fulfillment.
In the same way in my own life the main issue is not my smarts or my ability to stay awake for the long hours I may face. The central issue is where my hope is placed. Another parable comes to mind is the parable of the two men going to pray in Luke 18:10-14. The tax collector is praised for praying correctly because he humbled himself and prayed to be forgiven for his sins. While this tax collectors life was messed up he had found the secret to true life. He recognized his sin, recognized God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9) and focused on his need for restoration to God first.
A lot of things are good but not good when taken as the center of our lives, only God is big enough to occupy that place. I realize that if I want to truly have joy and serve others well in work I need to start with realizing my main need is to be in relationship with God and then to seek His kingdom in His way (Matthew 6:33). If I do that I know God will abundantly provide whatever I need (Phillipians 4:19).