Skip to content

Think on These Things: The Rich Man’s Folly

‘A man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.’
“Think on These Things” is a column written by retired Creston Pastor Ian Cotton.

By Ian Cotton, retired Creston pastor

The folly of those who make the world their all!

Jesus told a parable, (Luke 12:16) A rich farmer had an abundant harvest; and he thought, “What shall I do, I have no storage place. Ah, I will pull down my barns, and build bigger ones and store it. I will say to myself, See, I have much stored for many years; I will eat, drink and be merry.”

But God said to him, “You fool, tonight you will die: then who will get your things?”

Christ showed the folly of those who live for the world. This man received everything from God. The sun and the showers of heaven descend on the evil and on the good.

The rich man was perplexed as to what he should do with his produce. He did not think of God who had provided the abundance. He did not realize that God had made him a steward of His goods that he might help the needy. He thought only of his own comfort.

The poor, the orphan, the widow, the suffering, the afflicted, were brought to this rich man’s attention. He could easily have shared from his abundance, and many homes would have been blest, and a melody of praise would have ascended to heaven.

Abundant provision for the wants of many had been made in the blessings bestowed upon the rich man. But he closed his heart to the cry of the needy.

He lived as if there were no God, no heaven, no future life; as if everything he possessed were his own, and he owed nothing to God or man. The psalmist described all such, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” Psalm 14:1.

This man lived and planned for himself. He sees that the future is abundantly provided for; He regards himself as favored above other men, and takes credit to himself for his wise management.

The only thing that would be of value to him now, he has not secured. In living for self, he has rejected that divine love which could have flowed out in mercy to his fellow men. This man has chosen the earthly rather than the spiritual, and with the earthly he must pass away.

“So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” The picture is true for all time. You may gather together treasure, you may build great mansions, as did the builders of ancient Babylon; but you will not escape death.

To live for self is to perish. Covetousness, the desire of benefit for self’s sake, cuts you off from life. It is the spirit of Satan to get. It is the spirit of Christ to give, to sacrifice self for the good of others. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:11, 12.

Wherefore He says, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.”

- Adapted from Christ Object Lessons

READ MORE: Think On These Things: Gain That is Loss