Don't Be a Rich Fool

Rich Toward God

Jesus once said that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Not impossible (for all things are possible with God), but difficult. Why?

I think we see the answer in the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. In this parable we find an example of a man so caught up in the pursuit of stuff that he has forgotten what really matters. He's taken good things—wise investment, providing for his family, providing employment for others, good stewardship in general—and made them ultimate things. The pursuit of more, bigger, better has effectively become his god.

In fact, we see that his very security and his very happiness are tied up in what he can attain and what he can build to hold what he has attained. He is storing up goodies for himself, but he's not rich toward God.

The warning is clear: "Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" (Luke 12:20). As Jesus asks elsewhere, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36).

Earth-Rich, God-Poor

We must not become earth-rich and God-poor. When the day of accounting comes, when the kingdom's currency is requested for entrance into paradise, all the wealthy, fun-loving, permanent-vacation-taking souls will come up totally empty-handed.

Now, some may read this parable of the foolish rich man and think to themselves, "Ah, he should have cared more for others. If he had given more money away, he'd have the treasure of having done good." And it is imperative that we do good to others, but that kind of giving is a poverty all its own. When we reach the gates of Paradise and are asked for the currency of the kingdom to prove our right to enter, we best not try to hand in our own righteousness. The Bible says, "All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment" (Isa. 64:6).

No, when the opportunity comes to present our justification for entry into everlasting rest, we need only present an empty hand, saying, "I have nothing of my own to offer. But I am clothed in the righteousness of Christ that I have received through faith, which makes me totally vested in his unsearchable riches. My Savior, in the great grace of God, has purchased my entrance for me."

Or in the words of the beloved hymn, "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling." That is how to be rich toward God.

This article is adapted from the ESV Men's Devotional Bible by Jared C. Wilson.

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