A Successful Worldly Policy
Luke 12:16-21
And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:…


1. No sin in worldly success.

2. No sin in wise and thoughtful provision for worldly goods.

3. The sin consisted in his regarding the possessions as his own absolute property.


1. A foolish life because of the narrowness of its aims and purposes. You have seen some little ant-hill with its teeming life, a miniature world of employment and duty; its busy inhabitants absorbed and careless of any world beyond their own. So this man spent his life, and spent it, perhaps, happily enough, getting and spending, and gathering and consuming, and pulling down and building up again; until that other life and that other world thundered in upon him and would not be forgotten. For mark what is the great lesson after all. It is the fatal want in the man's character and life to which Christ would call our attention. Not what he had, but what he lacked was his undoing. He was rich toward man, but he was not rich toward God, and so while men called him "a success," God called him "a fool."

2. Again, this policy is a disastrous one, and this life is called a foolish life, because of its hopes and expectations. The man evidently calculated upon finding happiness some time or other in the future. Like most of us, he had never been exactly at ease, but now that he is to retire from active life — what promises men do make themselves when they have given up business! — when his new barns are built, then he will eat and drink and be merry. How human this is, for "man never is but always to be blessed."

3. A foolish life because of its false security. The one flaw was there. He calculated on a long life. The door was fastened against poverty, and the time of undue labour and anxiety was past, and the house of feasting was ready; but there was one visitor against whom he could not bar the door. "All men think all men mortal but themselves," and the danger which haunts us through life is of all things most unreal to us. Years ago among the Swiss mountains there was a village over which an avalanche had hung threateningly for nearly half a century. It was only a question of time, sooner or later it must come down and bury all beneath. Travellers warned the inhabitants of that village, but apathy only grew stronger with familiarity. Grey-headed men who had played as boys underneath the awful crags, now gathered in their harvest contentedly with scarcely a glance at the threatening danger. So all went on until one calm summer day, when, with scarcely a warning sound, down came the overwhelming mass, bringing destruction and death upon all beneath.

III. Lastly, we have. here THE PICTURE OF THE END OF A MERELY WORLDLY POLICY. Suddenly, unexpectedly, with no other warning than this of the text, the last hours of life have come. Like that avenging angel who passed over the households of Egypt, so with this man, the death angel is coming amid the shadows and with the darkness. How the hours of that terrible night must have worn on slow as centuries! He began it with pleasant promises, in health, and strength, and hopefulness, a reaper and a gatherer in the harvest fields; and lo! he, too, feels the sharp thrust of the sickle, and that amid the unripe grain which yields no promise of fruitfulness. He ends it, and with this one short, thrilling, awful night, the tragedy of life is over. I have read of one hanging over a fearful precipice who, looking up, saw the rope by which he hung jagged and worn against the sharp rock to a single thread which could hold out but a moment longer. So this man's spirit must have hung over eternity that night. Consider it! God's salvation, the teachings of wisdom, were with him as with all. Yet thus it was, that a life of privileges, and great worldly prosperity, and multiplied blessings, ended thus disastrously amid overwhelming confusion. With God so near, and infinite mercy never afar off, life darkened and darkened until the last glimmer of hope was gone, and the man was left to grope his way amid the shadows of an everlasting night.

(W. Baxendale.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:

WEB: He spoke a parable to them, saying, "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth abundantly.

A Scoffer Taken At His Word
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