We want to be wealthy, yet so many of us fall into the same trap of the rich fool in Jesus' Parable of the Rich Fool found in Luke chapter 12.
In his story, Jesus addresses three common delusions that we get caught in.
The first delusion: "I'm in control"
Jesus doesn't waste time with his words. Immediately he dives into how a certain rich man got richer:
"The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest" (Chapter 12 verse 16).
It was 'the ground' –and not so much the rich man's hard work or talent – that brought him a bigger yield that season.
When life is going well we can fall into the trap of thinking that it was all our effort, intuition or giftedness that brought us there. Of course, sometimes our doing does play a part but often it's not the biggest part.
We see countless examples of wealthy and 'successful' people who have worked hard to build their career and forged their way in life, but then eventually realise that they're not immune to economic downturns or sudden illnesses. Just recently I've heard about a teacher who started her new job as a deputy principal but only a short few weeks into her new role she was devastated by the news that she has leukaemia.
I'm actually not in control of my life.
The second delusion: "I can secure my future"
The second reason that rich fool was a fool was because he thought he had the power to control his future. He believed that by building a bigger barn, he could store up his surplus crops and continue riding this wave of wealth till his old age.
Jesus quickly cuts to the chase:
"You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?" (Verse 20).
Even though we know one day we'll die, no one expects that we'll die this early. Yet the fact is, a lot of us die earlier than we expect.
Jesus reminds us that death changes everything and knowing that we will die should help us rethink our priorities. Rather than spending time investing in a bigger barn for ourselves, Jesus reminds us to invest in our relationship with God. He says:
"Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God" (Verse 21).
The third delusion: "I'll enjoy my wealth"
The rich fool was foolish to think that his wealth is his everything. We foolishly buy into the lie of our culture of consumerism in which we believe that money 'can' buy happiness, and status and fame will bring us satisfaction.
But all around us, we are becoming more anxious and fearful. We are relying on medication and drugs to relieve stress. We are pursuing 'mindfulness' and scheduling times to destress and relax, only to re-enter back into the very world that causes us anxiety and angst.
Seek first God's Kingdom
After Jesus' parable about the rich fool, he reminds his disciples:
"... do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes... Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? ... But seek first his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well." (Luke chapter 12 verses 22, 23, 25 and 31)
More than any mindfulness workshop or meditation class, Jesus shows us that the only way to inner and eternal peace is when we put God's priorities above our own. To 'seek God's Kingdom first' is to, firstly, respond to God's invitation for a relationship with him, and then secondly, to live out the life knowing God's kingdom is already here.
In God's Kingdom, money doesn't define your status.
In God's Kingdom, your job title doesn't get you accolades.
In God's Kingdom, God endlessly provides all the riches, mercies and grace that we will need. It'll be more than we've ever imagined.
How I became the rich fool
So how did I become the rich fool? I live life thinking that I completely trust God's in control, but every time I face a small bump on the road – like seeing petrol prices rise or noticing my bathroom scale's readings are creeping up, I fall right back into the attitudes of the rich fool.
I need to remind myself that Jesus didn't have any barns, let alone a place to lay his head, yet he lived the most secure life when he was a man in this world.
Courtesy of Press Service International