Summary: We always want more - of the wrong things.
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray my Cuisinart to keep. I pray my stocks are on the rise,
and that my analyst is wise. That all the wine I sip is white, and that my hot tub’s watertight.
That racquetball won’t get too tough, that all my sushi’s fresh enough. I pray my cordless phone
still works, that my career won’t lose its perks. My microwave won’t radiate, my condo won’t
depreciate. I pray my health club doesn’t close, and that my money market grows. If I go broke
before I wake, I pray my Volvo they won’t take.
Steve Farrar, Family Survival in the American Jungle
I put a lot of time into my sermons. I guesstimate that I put in about one hour for each minute
that I talk. But no matter how well-researched the sermon is, how interesting or challenging the
sermon is, some people may miss the point of it. Usually this is due to some dilemma or personal
tragedy. Jesus had the same problem. He had been preaching on hypocrisy, hell and
unforgivable sin. But this guy in the crowd didn’t hear a word of it. He had a problem that so
distracted him that he could think of nothing else. He shouts out, "Teacher, get my brother to
divide my inheritance with me."
This wasn’t the first time for this sort of thing. For the second time in just a little while Jesus is
asked to step into a family disagreement. First it was Martha and Mary. Now it was a brother
against his brother over settling an inheritance. According to the law of the day, the elder brother
would receive two-thirds of the inheritance and the younger brother would receive one-third. But
this man isn’t asking Jesus to listen to both sides and make a righteous judgment; he is asking
Jesus to take sides with him against his brother. People have a way of wanting to use Jesus to put
their relatives in line. Jesus didn’t come to run everybody’s business.
This guy didn’t want what was fair, he didn’t want what was right. He was GREEDY! His share
wasn’t enough. What he was entitled to wasn’t enough. There are two ways to get enough: One
is to accumulate more and more, the other is to desire less. But we’re greedy. We can’t pass up a
deal. The only reason a great many American families don’t own an elephant is that they have
never been offered an elephant for a dollar down and easy weekly payments.
So Jesus tells him a story. We think it’s about rich people. Bill Gates. PowerBall winners. But
the man in Jesus’ parable wasn’t a fool because he was rich. He had gotten what he had
honestly-through the productiveness of his land. He was a fool because he forgot what was really
important. He was a fool because he decided for himself what was really important. He was a
fool because he thought: "I’ve done all this! I will pull down these warehouses, and build bigger
my crops . . . my barns . . . my goods . . . my soul; everything is him, and nothing is God. He
went wrong in the things he remembered. He remembered himself. The words "I" and "my" are
used 11 times. Conversations reveal what people are like. Eleanor Roosevelt could talk for two
and a half hours without referring to herself. At the other extreme, it’s been said that Elizabeth
Taylor refers to herself every 90 seconds.
Mine. Mine. Gimmee. Gimmee. We want more and more, all the time thinking it’s ours. We
don’t own anything. Whatever we have is lent to us by God; we are the stewards for God’s
property. He forgot, as do we sometimes, the words of Hosea 2:9 (read).
Jesus didn’t condemn the man for eating, drinking and being merry, nor even for being rich.
Rather the man was called foolish for building bigger barns. The point of the story is that the guy
was planning to store more of his wealth than he needed to eat, drink and be merry. Look again
at the words of the story. The man says, "What should I do for I have no place to store my
crops?" Wait a minute! He’s got barns. His problem is that his harvest has been so great that his
present storage facilities will not hold all of the grain. So he decides, I’ll tear down my barns and
build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain. But wait, his ground produced more than
usual, so he thought he needed bigger barns. But next year the barns might be too big as this year
the barns were too little. Years of famine commonly followed years of plenty.