Church of the Good Shepherd

The Parable of the Rich Fool

Have you ever lost sight of the Big Picture?  It used to happen to me all the time … especially while driving.

Big Rule in Driver’s Ed is to take in the “BIG PICTURE”

-          Parked Cars

-          Kids playing near the road

-          Oncoming traffic

-          Road Conditions and signs

For a long time it took effort, but now it comes naturally.

-          In fact, I can turn left across the other lane and only pause at stop signs … because I’m so aware of my surroundings.

Taking in the Big Picture is important in other areas of life too.

  • Driving – you can’t text and mess with your phone AND take in the Big Picture
  • Parenting – The screaming little thing with dirty diapers will one day mow my lawn and change my diapers.  Remember the Big Picture and change that diaper with a smile.
  • Dieting – It’s not fun to pass on dessert, but swim suit season is right around the corner and for many people that’s a part of the Big Picture for the season.
  • Jobs – Taking an entry level position for resume … not having a fun job, but the BIG PICTURE is to build a career.

Jesus, in this parable, says that we need to take a similar view of life.  When it comes to how we think and act … especially when it comes to money … never forget the BIG PICTURE.

1.  A Man Approaches Jesus and asks “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” (v.13)

A.  This Man Thinks He Has a Grasp of his Needs

ü  I have financial issues

  • There is a GAP between what I have and what I need
  • Isn’t there always a gap?

ü  My brother owes me some money

  • Maybe it’s enough to pay off my school loans
  • Maybe it’s enough to buy a field and start my own farm
  • Maybe it’s enough … more than enough … to bridge that gap


B.  The Big Picture of My Life is Lacking

To fix it, I need … MONEY

-          That’s his Big Picture, as far as he could tell

  • He can see his family
  • Material needs
  • Retirement funds
  • Money to leave his kids

-          As far as his eyes and financial plan could understand, the big picture of his life needs money

-          So he comes to Jesus

C.  This Request Isn’t Out of Line

Rabbi’s often handled these sort of disputes

Besides, Jesus had just taught people to ASK / Seek / Knock

-          That’s what this guy is doing

-          He’s praying to Jesus about his need

2.  Jesus Counters (v.15)

 “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

A.  You Think You Understand the Big Picture Of Your Life … But there Are Big Pieces of The BIG PICTURE that You Are Blind To.

  • Like a Driver’s Ed Student focused on gauges, gears and hood ornaments – ignoring the road ahead
  • There are parts of life – perhaps the best parts of life – beyond the dashboard
    • On the dashboard is your gas, oil, speed
      • Food, money, clothes
    • But what about …
      • Spiritual realities
      • Emotional needs
      • Relationships
      • The need for beauty and truth
      • Connecting to God and to other people
  • The BIG PICTURE of your life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions … in stuff
  • The stuff that’s truly important can’t be bought, sold or traded on E-Bay

B.  If this WAS the Goal … Jesus Could Fix It Easily

The man looking for his inheritance came to the right guy.

If the guy really needed CASH to fill in the gaps of his life, Jesus was the one to go to.

-          He owns the cattle on a thousand hills

-          The streets of heaven are paved with gold, gates of solid pearl

Jesus could easily give us all a bigger home, 2 cars and plenty of spending cash.

? Would that Work?  Would We Be Happy?

No, because life is far more than Stuff.

GOLD, SLIVER & BRONZE METAL winners (from John Ortberg) 

ü  Who is happiest?

ü  Gold is #1

ü  #2 … Bronze

ü  B/c Bronze compares himself to everyone who didn’t place and feels good

ü  Silver compares himself to Gold and is frustrated that he didn’t take 1st place.

Talking to people who you’d think have “PLENTY” … they seem to think like silver medal winners.

-          Yeah, I’m better than most

-          But what about this thing I don’t have yet? 

  • Am I really successful enough… or do I need that other car/house/wife/vacation?

-          What if the worst happens? 

  • Am I really secure yet … or do I need a little more in savings?

Money is one of those slippery, stressful subjects … that’s why Jesus spends so much time talking about it.

All week people asking me if this was the “EYE OF THE NEEDLE” Parable

More than sex, idolatry or even prayer.

Money gets to our hearts faster … that’s why in bad times like this, we have an opportunity to connect to God in ways that are rare and wonderful.

Signs of the Recession:

Dentists seeing more chipped and broken teeth

-          Not because people are making side money as UFC fighters

-          But they are grinding their teeth at night

-          One dentist saw 8 broken teeth and prescribed 4 mouth guards in one day.

On the Plus Side … Fewer Shark Attacks
  • In 2008, attacks worldwide dipped to their lowest level in five years, a sign that Americans may be forgoing vacation trips to the beach, said ichthyologist George Burgess of the University of Florida.
  • The total number of shark attacks declined from 71 in 2007 to 59 in 2008

C.  DIAGNOSIS – When we think that life can be fixed by changed circumstances (money, success, a relationship) we fall into a trap called “Greed” or “Covetousness.”

We have to be careful … “be on your guard”

-          We don’t have to be on our guard against murder … we know we are doing that

-          But we can be greedy, filled with covetousness … and be clueless about it.

Tim Keller’s Signs To See If You’re Greedy

Emotional Signs

Gloating – Wanting Bigger Barns, Look at what I did (when the land did the work – v.16)

ü  Two verses...eight I's and four my's

ü  I...I...I...I...I...I...I...I...my...my...my...my

Worry – If you worry, it shows that you set your heart on these things.

It’s possible to not have any money, but still worry about it – greed

Psychological Signs

Two Kinds of Greed

1)      Defensive Greed – Happens when you set your heart on money as SECURITY

  1. “I will say to my soul … now you have enough to be secure.” 
  2. You can rest because money leads to control & safety
  3. SEAN FITZGERALD - using a 1000 dollar windfall to buy a 1000 dollar safe to keep the money in.

2)      Aggressive Greed – Happens when you set your heart on money as BEAUTY.

  1. I judge myself (and think I’m judged by others) based on what I have, what I wear, what I eat and drink
  2. If I have the right clothes, go on the right vacations, drink the right whiskey … then I’m okay

Defensive Greed sees money as a way to keep the outside would away.

Aggressive Greed sees money as a way to bring the outside world in.

Defensive Greed  leads to saving / being a penny-pinching miser.

Aggressive Greed leads to spending … some people with this sort of greed can make 6 figures and still have piles of credit card debt because they get caught in this rat-race.

3.  The Rich Fool

A.  This story is someone who lost the big picture

Self- Absorbed

Staring at Gauges on the Dashboard

Can’t see the road

No Relational Connections

-          V.17 / v.19 – Talking to himself

-          I’ll say to my soul, “Soul…”

-          No wife, friends, others

Self Absorbed

Two verses...eight I's and four my's


No Spiritual Connection

v.19 – my soul will be satisfied with eating, drinking, relaxing and being merry

B.  God’s Verdict = FOOL

  • Look up from the dashboard at the BIG PICTURE
  • You’re driving off a cliff.
  • Now what!?!

Short-Term Thinking Always Leads to Us Being FOOLS

What will we do for short-term wins?

-          Destroy life, health and relationships for sex

-          Telling lies to make friends but burning bridges with others

-          Cut corners on the job to get done a little faster, leading to a terrible reputation and no work later


Life can’t be measured on the dashboard. 

Life is more than the abundance of things

No matter how rich, successful we are, if we’re obsessed with “stuff” we are like D-Students in Driver’s Ed being put charge of our lives, our kids, our families, even our eternal souls.

4.  Solution (v.21) “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

A.  True Life, the BEST LIFE, Takes in the Full Big Picture

Yeah, we need stuff … a car needs gas in the tank, oil changes, etc

But we need much more than that too.

How will you investment strategy pay-off the day AFTER you die?

-          The Rich Fool forgot God, Others and his own mortality

We need to be rich toward God, not just for self.

B.  What Do We Need More Than Money?

Faith (v.22-28)

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! ” (Luke 12:22–28, ESV)

Ravens / Lilies

Faith tells us that God will provide for today and tomorrow.

Bigger Picture

V. 31 “Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. ” (Luke 12:31, ESV)

The Kingdom is a lifestyle where Jesus’ presence, power and leadership are obvious.

Connecting to God in a real way


Connecting to others

-          Providing for the poor, being provided for – REAL COMMUNITY

-          “Little flock” (v.32)


ILL – Lynn Hybels –not buying clothes & AIDS RELIEF

C.  How Do We Learn To Focus On the Big Picture?

#1  Experience Radical Grace

Not “if you sell your stuff”

THEN you will be rich toward God

BUT – REALIZE that you CAN BE Rich Toward God / You ALREADY ARE Rich Toward God

We can have all the inner wealth we need in Jesus

1 Peter 2:9   “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. “

2 Corinthians 8:7, 9 “But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.[the grace of giving] For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

If letting go of money – either for its security or beauty – hurts, it’s because you lack inner wealth in Jesus.

#2  Ride With a Good Coach or Mentor

Someone who can point out where you’re staring at the dashboard & lost sight of the Big Picture

-          Spouse

-          Others b/c sometimes a spouse becomes just another gauge to monitor

#3Develope the Courage to Live AS IF Being Rich Toward God is Actually Best

For many, generosity is a great idea in theory, but a bad idea in practice.

Consistently sociologists find that the poorest people give a higher percentage of their income than the rich do.


-          Because we live wanting to be rich toward God, but act AS IF being rich to self is best.

-          We have goals of generosity, changing the community, having an impact that will last

-          But at the end of the day, it’s about my security, my beauty … and all my extra money goes to those goals.

It’s time to stop TALKING ABOUT setting people free in Christ and ACTUALLY Start SETTING THEM FREE.

? What if we actually had the courage to live in the BIG PICTURE as God sees it?

-          In the Kingdom of God

-          With Faith

-          In Community

-          Finding Joy


TRUST ME – You will like your life more if you break your addiction to stuff

  • Sharing your wealth instead of building bigger barns
  • Deeper community (little flock)
  • Deeper connection to what’s most important in life
    • Faith
    • Family
    • People
    • Deeper, Daily Reliance on God

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. ” (Luke 12:32–34, ESV)

Lets trust our hearts to God

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