Sorry folks, I’m still stuck on the gospel reading from July 31. The parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21). Several people commented how important my sermon was on that day. I’m gratified
that this sermon spoke to many of you. I, myself struggle with my “stuff.”
Many years ago, missionary Bob Roberts was a guest speaker in a church. In this service he was sharing his burden for hungry children in the Philippines. Afterwards a young boy, about seven years old, came up to him and said, “Jesus spoke to me tonight while you were telling us about the hungry children . . . When you said that for a quarter a day you could feed a child and give him a vitamin, I thought, I’ve got to help. But I didn’t know how I could. That’s when Jesus spoke to me.” The lad extended his hand and said, “This is my shell collection. I believe Jesus wants me to give these shells to help the children.” With those words, he placed the shells in Roberts’ hand. Roberts accepted the shells, but he wondered how they could help hungry children.
A few weeks later, Roberts spoke to another congregation. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the seashells and told about that boy and his desire to feed hungry children. At the end of the service, a man approached Roberts and said, “I would like to purchase those shells for $100!”
Bob Roberts added this comment, “My freckle-faced friend may never know that his sacrificial offering provided 400 meals for Filipino children. He may not have understood how the Lord would use this small gift to feed the hungry, but he knew God wanted him to give what he had…”
Another story is about a man, a friend of mine, who was only twenty-nine years old. He was married, and had three kids. All three kids were under five years of age. He was an attorney in Illinois. One day he woke up with a headache. As the day went on, it got more painful. Then he had difficulty seeing. Then he had difficulty walking. He went to the doctor. The doctor said, “You have a brain tumor that will require special surgery right away. If you survive the surgery, then there could be a critical time of recovery for about a year. If you survive that, then each year after that you can be more assured of a full recovery.” He made it through the surgery. He made it through that first year. Then he had this interview. A reporter asked him, “Have you learned anything through this?” He said, “Your life is on loan.”
That is the message of this parable. The obvious point of the parable, the one that everybody seems to get, is that we can’t take our possessions with us. We are going to leave our possessions behind. “The things you have prepared, whose will they be?” But that is not the main point of the parable. The main point of the parable is that your life is on loan, too. “Fool! This night your soul is required of you.”
God came to the rich man who had to build bigger barns to hold his goods and said, “You fool!” He was foolish, wasn’t he? We all need to learn to live more simply, we need to evaluate our level of giving, and we need to understand that the extent of our giving is the most accurate gauge we have of the authenticity of our faith. Jesus said it best, of course, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Where is your treasure?