Psalm 133.1 “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” This is the basis for todays parable. Out of the crowd following Jesus someone cries out, ”Tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” Notice first off, there is no question asked, there is no true desire for arbitration, there is no desire for unity, or justice, no fairness indicated. The man calling out has already decided what is needed, he has reviewed the case in his mind, and come to a one sided view the answer required, division of the land and possessions of the deceased father. Understand that this is not an American setting. This is Israel, the Middle East. Obviously they live in a different time and culture than we do. As in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the family lives together. Inheritance comes with the death of the father, and is then given to the sons of the family, who should then live together in unity. The Law of Moses states, “Thou shalt not covet.” Coveting is wanting what you don’t have. This man in the story wants his portion separated from his brother. He wants. Jesus’ response is “Man who made Me a judge or divider over you.” (Yes, the best word used here is divider, not arbitrator.) In true keeping with the character revealed to us about Jesus is, He is a reconciler, not a divider. Understanding what the underlying desire is from this man, Jesus goes on to issue a voice of wisdom saying, “Beware and be on guard against every form of greed, for not even when one has abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
Now Jesus tells a story to those listening and the man who cried out for a ruling. “The land of a rich man was very productive” Already we are told the man is wealthy, this may be a gift from God or the result of the talents given to him from God. There is no fault yet assigned to this man, he is merely wealthy. But his land produced a bumper crop, an obvious gift from God, for as every farmer knows each year is a gamble as to weather conditions, pests, weeds, etc. and produce. Now he reasons with himself, which is not the common tradition of this society. Everyone lives in community, they may own land, but they live together. The land is worked and cared for by family and servants, but living isolated on large farms is American, not Middle East culture. Also as we know from the Psalms and other scriptures that the men of a community gather daily, especially the leaders of the community, but not limited to, to talk, to debate, to mull over problems, to discuss dilemmas, both public and private, for hours on end. So in this story the man has isolated himself from the community, and has the discussion with himself. His reasoning then comes from his heart, which reveals where his treasure really is. He can’t be satisfied, no matter how much he owns. Ecclesiastes 1.7 says “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.” The man decides then to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to hold all his surplus. There is no evidence of giving to God, the temple, or the poor in this mans view of life. His fallacy is revealed in what Jehovah then says to him. “You fool, This very night your soul is required of you, and now who will own what you have prepared.”
Jesus continues with,”so is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Now the question comes to us, where is our treasure? Are we consumed with possessions, do we care about others, do we care about the church, and Godliness? What does God require from us who live in the wealthiest nation on earth. “It is true that a certain amount of money and possessions are necessary for life, but it is not true that a greater abundance means a greater abundance of life.” Kenneth Bailey.
I add this as a note from my own personal experience, not for praise or recognition, but as a living example to what God does. When He requires from me to give to a particular cause, need, or purpose, sometimes an exceedingly great amount to my view, He always provides the surplus. We honestly don’t even miss the difference. God doesn’t require from us anything He won’t supply. So my friends, it’s easy to trust Him and live according to His economy, for He loves you very much.