“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, drink, 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?” So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God’” (Luke 12:16-21).
Consider four aspects of the rich man’s foolishness. First and foremost, he was a fool because he laid up treasure for himself and was not rich toward God. He left God out of his thinking and his life; he made no plans for eternity. The one who does not believe in God is a fool: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). But the man who believes in God but does not order his life by God’s will is also a fool. Jesus said, “Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew on that house, and it fell. And great was its fall” (Matthew 2:26-27). Anyone who leaves God out of his thinking and his living, thus not preparing for eternity, is a fool.
Secondly, the rich man of the parable was a fool because he left his fellow-man out of his life. He spoke in terms of “I” and “my”. He was rich in this world’s goods, but they were stored up for his own selfish pleasure, that he himself would consume – “I will say to my soul…eat, drink, and be merry.” A life devoted to one’s own pleasure is truly foolish. On the other hand, wisdom teaches us that as we have opportunity, we should do good unto all, especially those of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10). This is part of being rich toward God.
Third, he was a fool because he thought he could be satisfied with the material things of this world. The true need of the soul cannot be filled that way: “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; nor he who loves abundance with increase” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). The truth is that only God can truly fill the soul, and that by being in Christ. It is Jesus who provides rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29), and we are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).
Fourth, he was a fool because he thought he had a promise of future days: “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years” (Luke 12:19). But we don’t know about “many years,” much less even many days: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). It is foolish to “bank” on tomorrow.
The rich man’s same foolish way is oft repeated. It does not have a good ending. If you would choose the path of wisdom, then be saved in Jesus Christ and order your thinking and living according to His will. Do good toward others. Your soul will be filled, and you will be laying up for yourselves “treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:30).