“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
In the parable of the rich man who’s land produced a bountiful harvest which was hoarded, there is at one hand social commentary, and on the other good simple advice. One one hand looking at land in that manner, that is a harvest that was so abundant it needed to be stored in large barns; was the practice of the Romans. One of the reasons they were in that area was for the cultivation of wheat, and that wheat was in great demand back in Rome. When the person in the crowd said “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”, that person could have just as well been addressing Rome telling them to share some of the harvest with him, the poor farmer that had 95% of his crop taken away from him. Buried in the parable is a short implied statement on international trade and how mighty nations might better treat their weaker trade partners.Economic and Social Justice between trading nations was as much a dilemma in Jesus time as it is today.
A second lesson that might be gleaned from what a person should do with such a bountiful harvest.In the first sentence the parable says “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.” Notice that the sentence says “… whose land produced a bountiful harvest” It was not the rich man who produced, but the land. The next sentence uses the phrase “What shall I do?” “What shall I do?” is used in the parable in one form or another six times.If it was the land that produced, why is he the only concern?His whole dialogue is focused around him, his accomplishments, his needs, his grain, and his comfort. Thanksgiving is never mentioned. While this man does many things, he does not seem to do the right thing to many times. He gives no thanks to God for either his harvest or his blessings. As he does not take God into consideration, he also does not take his neighbors into consideration, nor the people that helped him with the harvest. I doubt that much grain was planted and harvested by just one person.To him his duty is only to himself and in his eyes he owes nothing to his neighbor. Might this person be described as greedy and selfish?
A third lesson comes at the end, when God takes his life before he gets to use his riches
“But God said to him,’You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God.” Were his possessions ever really his, and in the end do possessions really matter? Did he, like so many people place to much emphasis on material goods and not enough on spiritual goods. Did he perhaps forget his greatest possession was his life, or a day? Did his earthly possessions rob him of what was truly valuable? Did his success’s in acquiring wealth cause him to loose perspective on what is truly valuable? Perhaps the third lesson is simply a warning about the dangers of capitalism or materialism or even ambition and greed ? Success in business doesn’t always lead to happiness.