How different is God’s perspective from man’s! The wealthy man in Jesus’ parable would have been the envy of most everyone who knew him, yet God pitied him. He was rich in the eyes of men, but poor in the sight of God. He could have laid up treasure in heaven where it would have been his forever, but he chose to lay it up on earth where it was of no profit to him the moment he died. And in light of what Jesus taught about greedy people, it seems quite unlikely that Jesus wanted us to think the wealthy man went to heaven when he died.
This parable should help us all to remember that everything we have is a gift from God, and He expects us to be faithful stewards. It has application, not only to those who have material wealth, but to anyone and everyone who is tempted to make material things too important. This Jesus made clear as He continued speaking to His disciples:
For this reason [that means what He was about to say was based on what He just said] I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:22-34).
How Jesus’ words stand in contrast to those of modern “prosperity preachers”! Today we are being told that God wants us to have more, whereas Jesus told His disciples to sell what they already possessed and give it to charity! Again He exposed the foolishness of those who lay up their treasures on earth—where those treasures are destined to perish, and where the hearts of the treasure-owners reside.
Notice that Jesus applied the lesson of the rich fool to those who had so little that they were tempted to be concerned about food and clothing. Being worried about such things betrays that our focus is wrong. If we trust our caring Father as we should, we won’t worry, and that carefree attitude liberates us to focus on building God’s kingdom.