Luke 12:13 - 21
ESV - 13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me. 14 But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?
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MORAL LESSONS IN THE PARABLE OF THE RICH FOOL (Luke 12:13-21) First it is probable that the man seeking the resolution of a dispute may have coveted the larger portion that fell to the elder brother. Since we do not have the benefit of further information from Scripture concerning the family of the claimant we may make some suppositions for argument sake. It is well possible that the claimant may have had a genuine grievance because he may have been shortchanged by his elder brother who may have taken advantage of his age at the time that their father died and perhaps because the society was not as godly and just as that of the Old Testament fathers. The man appeared to have lost hope over the traditional Jewish family dispute resolution system which was probably corrupt and unjust at the time of Christ (Cf. the parable of the unjust judge Luke 18:1-8). It is also possible that the claimant may have been the son of a “strange woman” or concubine who were often denied full inheritance and frowned upon by the sons of the “legal” woman (See the story of Isaac and Ishmael. Genesis 21:9-11 states “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. 11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.” Notice that Abraham considered Hagar a legitimate member of his household and Ishmael his true son beside Isaac. He struggled with Sarah’s nagging until God intervened to indicate that Isaac was the son of the Promise and the two women had to part ways. Nevertheless God blessed Ishmael too but not as much as he did Isaac. The Parable of the Rich Fool is a classic treatise of a life lived without God in the picture. Jesus was not overlooking the significance of the case raised by the claimant but took the opportunity to warn those whose love for the things of this world has relegated their devotion to God to the backburners. This warning also rings out in 1 John 2:15-17 where Scripture warns us about loving the world and its systems because it pollutes our love for God There is always a danger in accumulation of wealth even where it is legitimately earned in that if unchecked it drains away our commitment to godly living and introduces pride and self aggrandizement. Wealthy people even with the best of godly intentions often find it hard to resist the urge for a higher sense of self importance. What with recognition that success brings, the privilege of controlling the lives of those working for or under them and the accolades with which their society garlands them! The Rich Fool was a very visionary investor and his success would ordinarily pass for his earthly prudence until we remember that even with the best of human intelligence, it is God who gives us power to make wealth. Material success should therefore call for more humility, a greater sense of gratitude to the ultimate owner of all there is on earth and the giver of life (Psalm 24:1). Our life is the most precious gift that God has donated to us for which we must account to him. He controls our destiny and we live by his grace. This is not to suggest that wealth is evil per se or that believers should not pursue it. Job was the billionaire of his time but Scripture demonstrates that he never forgot his God and he held his relationship with God much closer to his heart than all the possessions he had. Even his family came second to God. Jesus cautions us in Matthew 6:20 that Matthew 6:19-21 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven..." May this be true of every child of God even as we seek the best of that which God lays before for us in this passing evil world.
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