Luke 12: 13-21 tells the parable of a farmer who is blessed with an abundant crop, it’s such an abundant harvest that he decides to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones. By doing this, he can sit back, relax, drink, and be merry! But then the parable continues as God calls the farmer a fool by storing up treasure for himself rather than being rich toward God.
So is Jesus saying we shouldn’t save for a rainy day? Is Jesus saying big barns and retirement plans are a bad thing? Is he saying it’s a bad thing to make money or have a bumper year? I don’t think that’s his point at all. Notice, Jesus doesn’t warn about saving for the future. What he warns about is greed and that feeling that there’s just not enough. The problem with the farmer isn’t a great harvest, riches, or even saving for retirement – the problem was not including God in the conversation.
Listen again to the conversation he has with no one but himself: What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops? I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, and be merry. What I hear in this one-sided conversation is me, me, me. There is no thankfulness to God. There is no seeking wisdom from the Almighty. There is no consideration of others. It’s all about him.
I once heard an interesting story that during the crusades, before going into battle, men would come and be baptized. But while the act of baptism was taking place, the crusader would hold up his right arm so it wouldn’t get wet – so it would be separate from the baptism. That way he could still carry a sword and kill with his unbaptized arm. So it makes me wonder about us today, are we holding our wallets and pocketbooks out of the water so we can make money and spend money however we choose – without having to bring God into it? I don’t think we intentionally mean to leave God out. And neither did that farmer. But when we do, we are not being rich toward God.
Are your toes sore? Mine are. And that’s OK, because as we dance with the holy and live out our baptismal promises, toes will be stepped on from time to time. But along with sore feet, we trust in God to be the great giver. It is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the things that we need in life. The gifts of God for the people of God seem to have no limits, even the gift of his son. Yes, God is rich toward us. May we learn to be faithful with such holy generosity, including God in the conversation when it comes to our time, our talent, and our treasure.
In His Holy Peace,