Sermon for Harvest by Rev Canon Charles Royden
Parable of the Rich Fool
And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' "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?' "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God." Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them.
I wonder who saw the British Airways plane on fire at las Vegas recently. Corinne and I were watching the news and the folks from the plane were standing on the runway having come down the special inflatable shoot from airplane to escape the flames. Corinne immediately said ‘look they have got their luggage.’ Corinne notices these details, she spots continuity mistakes all the time in films. She was right - the people had come down the escape and shoot and they had taken their bags with them.
Now this was a very dangerous thing to do, the suitcases could have punctured the escape shoot .
These people were thinking of themselves and had lost focus on what were the priorities - getting people safely off the plane. Instead they were thinking about their possessions.
- They were clearly too attached to their possessions
- They had not got their priorities in the right order
In the story today of the Rich Fool, Jesus is approached by a man whose father has died and he wants Jesus to help him get more money out of the will from his brother.
Wills are frequently the source of family tensions - people wanting more.
So Jesus uses the question from the man to give some teaching about wealth and possessions.
- He wants to stop people from getting too attached to their possessions.
- He wants to help them get their priorities in the right order their
This man is asking Jesus to help him get money out of his fathers estate. So Jesus tells the story of a rich man who dies.
A guy dies and two friends go to the funeral on the way back from the funeral and someone asked him, “How much did the guy leave behind?” And the man smartly replied, “Everything.”
Well this man’s father has died. He had left behind him everything. Jesus is saying to the bereaved son,
Look it doesn't matter how much money you get, it won’t make you happy and guess what, no matter how much you have you are going to have to leave it all behind.
Or as a funeral director said to me last Friday - shrouds don’t have pockets.
So Jesus wants the man to get his priorities right and not be a fool. This harvest we are challenged to get our priorities right. Let’s look at three priorities which come out of the passage
The first reason the man was a fool was because he failed to realise that everything belongs to God
The problem with the rich man was that he thought everything was his own. If you read the passage you will see that Jesus emphasised certain words
He thought to himself, '
What shall I do?
I have no place to store my crops.'
"Then he said, 'This is what I'll do.
I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones,
and there I will store all my grain and my goods.
And I'll say to myself,
"You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.
Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."
This rich man was a fool because he forgot that these crops were not his. Our stuff is not our own. The earth is God’s, we are entrusted to look after it and to look after one another, not to think that the purpose of life is to get more and more for ourselves.
- My barns
- My Food
- My plenty
This was Gods ground, God crops
When God created the world Adam was not given ownership he was asked to look after it
It was not ownership it was stewardship. The man never thought about God.
He never considered that the stuff we have is not our own.
The second reason the man was a fool was because he was greedy
At the start of this story Jesus says
"Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness,
The rich man was a fool because he thought that if he was greedy he would be happy. If I build bigger barns and have more stuff than I will be able to be happier.
You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.
Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."
The fact is that for a greedy person to be satisfied they will always need a little bit more. No amount will ever be enough. Greed is a thirst which can never be satisfied.
If we keep wanting more then we will never have enough.
Greed is like drinking saltwater, saltwater can never satisfy our thirst, we will just become thirstier and need to drink more and if we keep on doing it eventually it will kill us.
The third reason why the man was a fool was because he thought that things could bring happiness.
There is a tendency to think that possessions will make us happy, but life is not helped by having lots of possessions.
The words that Jesus used to say this are
one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.
If we want to have a healthy body then
We must eat the right things.
We must get sleep
We have to exercise
If we do this kind of thing then we will be physically well. Our bodies will respond to being looked after, kept warm and clean.
But of course we are more than just bodies. There is within each one of us a spiritual part. In the parable Jesus said that one day that spiritual part of us will be called to meet with God. At any moment any one of us could find that our bodies die and God calls our spiritual souls.
So we have to make sure that we look after our souls. We need to stop thinking about earthly things and think about heavenly things. Seek ye first the kingdom of God
This rich man was a fool because he thought that a man made in the image of God could be ultimately satisfied with eating, drinking
What a fool he is
In Psalm 42.1-2 we read that the soul of man thirsts for God just as the soul of a deer thirsts for water. Augustine famously stated ‘my soul is restless till it finds it rest in thee.’
This harvest is a time to make sure that we are not being fools.
First we remember that our things our not ours they are given to us by God and we have a duty to use what we have properly
Secondly we have to learn that we should not be greedy. This is an important lesson for us who are among the richest people on earth. To learn that what we have needs to be shared.
Thirdly we need to remember that our spiritual health is more important than our physical health. When we die God does not look at our bodies and say,
‘you’re a bit fat or you’ve lost your hair.
It is our souls which are judged by God
The man came to Jesus because he was concerned about his material wealth, he wanted more money out of the will. Jesus said he should be concerned about his spiritual health. We care for our souls by doing the opposite of the rich fool. Instead of gathering everything for ourselves we learn to give. Instead of spending all our time on our leisure we learn to serve others. As we go to church, say our prayers, read our scriptures and learn to live better lives, as we share the good news of Jesus, this is how we prepare our souls. .