The simplest statement made in Scripture about the life that Jesus brings His people is perhaps also the most profound: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The giving life is not about obligation or guilt or drudgery or merely surviving. It’s about life in abundance.
To give lavishly is to be rich toward God; to hoard or spend on ourselves without regard for others is to be impoverished toward God. He accepts our gifts to the needy as if they were given directly to Him: “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17).
Any lifestyle that doesn’t align with God’s priorities and won’t hold up after death is not a good one—no matter how glamorous or appealing or sensible it seems at the time.
What Makes Someone a Fool?
In Christ’s story of the rich fool a man decides to hoard his fortune then “take life easy; eat, drink and be merry” (see Luke 12:13-21). The word translated “fool” literally means “unthinking one.” Mindless. Senseless. The rich fool was out of touch with eternal realities. Despite death’s inevitability, he failed to prepare for it—and failed to remember that he would give an account to God (Romans 14:12).
The rich fool stored up treasures for himself on Earth as if he were the center of the universe and as if this world was where he’d live forever. The man was a fool to imagine his silver, gold, crops, land, and barns were actually his. He was a fool to ignore God’s claims on him and his possessions:
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1, NIV)
“The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the Lord Almighty. (Haggai 2:8, NIV)
A wise person will regularly ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do with all you have put in my hands?” God’s Word tells us exactly how to prepare now for the afterlife. Though our culture and even some of our Christian friends may encourage us to do so, we don’t have to live like fools!
In the world’s eyes, the rich fool was a great success. Today he would be admired, and he might even be placed on a church or ministry board. But in the end, all his success counted for nothing.
Had the rich fool acknowledged God as his Creator and Redeemer, and as the ultimate owner of everything he possessed, he would have been rich toward God and stored up treasures in Heaven. Instead, he stored up for himself treasures on Earth and was suddenly and eternally parted from them at death.
The most troubling aspect of this parable is that if we met this man, most of us would commend him for his foresight.
Notice he isn’t called the rich sinner, but the rich fool.
Materialists are Self-Destructive Keepers
Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson observed this about those who fail to live generous lives:
By holding onto what we possess, we diminish its long-term value to us. In protecting only ourselves against future uncertainties and misfortunes, we become more anxious about uncertainties and vulnerable to future misfortunes. In short, by failing to care well for others, we actually do not properly take care of ourselves.
Christ-followers are self-enriching givers. Why? Because giving inevitably enlarges our hearts, lives, and capacity for joy.
Don’t misunderstand. The true good life doesn’t say no to wealth or pleasures. Rather, it says yes to greater and lasting wealth and pleasures that are found when we cheerfully part with God’s money and possessions for others’ good and God’s glory.
God graciously gives us money and possessions to meet real needs, both our own needs and the needs of others.