13Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” 16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ 20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13 – 21)
Today, we continue our consideration of the discipline of stewardship. I am sure that most, if not all of us agree that the possessions we are blessed with ultimately belong to God. However, a problem often emerges because we very easily slide into “ownership mode”, where we act as if we are the ultimate owner of our possessions; instead of “stewardship mode”, where we recognize God as the ultimate owner. The temptation is very strong partly because possessions are a great signal of our level of success and status. However, it is very clear which mode gives glory to God.
We are not immune to the kind of greed exhibited by the rich man in the parable, and this is not only a “rich man’s disease” or necessarily about financial or physical assets. Therefore, pay very careful attention to the caution Jesus proclaimed in Luke 12:15: “Watch out!”
On one level, the rich man in the parable appears to be engaging in “sensible” forward planning. Where does he go wrong, and how could we do the same?