Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God. – Luke 12:21 NLT
This is an interesting passage. Typically we use it when we want to talk about giving. Which seems to make sense. But when you look closer at the context of the passage, it seems that giving is not really the point Jesus is trying to make. Jesus is using a comparison to the man in the parable He has just told. This man, who was a wealthy land-owner, was suffering from a eye problem. Actually it was an I problem. He was obsessed with himself. Just look at verses 17-19. In just three short verses he uses the personal pronouns I or my at least 11 times. It is all about him. His crops. His barns. His grain. His soul. He is large and in charge. He mistakenly believes that he is in control of his wealth and his destiny. Nowhere does he factor in God. His decisions are all up to him. His future is all up to him. After all, his abundance had been all up to him!
But God had other plans. God calls the man a fool. Because all the while he has been planning his future – filled with eating, drinking and good times – God had another plan and another schedule. That very night he would lose his life. All his plans would evaporate and all his efforts to store up for himself treasures here on this earth for future enjoyment would disappear. That is when Jesus turns to His disciples and says, "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself and in not rich toward God" (Luke 12:21 NASB). You see, because of the way this verse is typically translated, we think that it is telling us to be rich toward God. We are supposed to generous with our resources and give them to God. Now don't get me wrong. There are plenty of verses that support tithing and giving, but I just don't think this is one of them. I think this verse carries an even more important point. We are not being told to make God rich, but to be rich with God. We are NOT to fill our lives with stuff and set our hopes for the future on material things. No, we are to fill our lives with God – fully realizing that our present as well as our future are in His hands. We are to abound in His riches.
Jesus goes on to say, "He will give you all you need from day to day if you make the Kingdom of God your primary concern" (Luke 12:31 NLT). This isn't about us giving to God, but about Him giving to us. "So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom" (Luke 12:32 NLT). The problem with the man in the parable is that he didn't need God. He had riches to spare and was putting all his hope for the future in them. But those kinds of riches can only deliver temporal satisfaction. They are unreliable for anything but short-term satisfaction. God has riches beyond anything we could ever imagine, and He wants to share them with us. His riches are eternal and everlasting. His treasure is in heaven, and is not of this earth. He makes that clear in verses 33-34. "Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no holes in them. Your treasure will be safe––no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be" (Luke 12:32-33 NLT). The Message paraphrases that last verse this way: "It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being."
This isn't a parable about giving. It is a parable about receiving. Receiving riches from God and a treasure stored up for us in heaven that we can never lose. Are you rich with God today? Are you abounding in His riches today? Are you relying on His wealth of resources or are you counting on your own riches to bring your joy, contentment, happiness, and fulfillment?
Father, thank You that I don't have to depend on my riches. First of all, I don't have much. And what I do have is not going to last. It can't even satisfy me right now, let alone in the future. But the riches that you offer are eternal. I want to be abounding in your riches. The riches of your grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness. I want my heart to treasure what you have provided for me, not what I can provide for myself. Amen.