And he spoke a parable to them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:…
God did not call this man a fool because he looked well after his worldly interest. So far as it appears, he was an honest, industrious, and enterprising man, who did not make his money by speculation or fraud, but in an honest way. I don't know any occupation that is more honest than that of a farmer. Up in the morning, whilst others lie in bed. Active, persevering, and diligent, I dare say he looked sharply after his cattle and his men too; but God did not find fault with the man for that, on the contrary, I find in this Bible that God applauds our being "diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord," which means that we can serve the Lord as well in business as in devotion. The Apostle Paul speaks plainly of those who want to eat without doing any work. "If there be any man," says Paul, "who will not work, he shall starve; and these things command and exhort, &c." And Jesus always selects His disciples when they are busy. We have a good many instances of Christ calling men to be His disciples; but I challenge any present to point to one who was not busy. One is draining fish; another with his pen over his ear; another making tents. Christ calls men when they are busy; Satan when they are idle. Don't suppose, then, that God called this man a fool because he was busy in his worldly interests; he who does not do so is worse than an infidel.
I. HE CALLED HIM. A FOOL BECAUSE HE TOOK NO ACCOUNT OF GOD. We are told in this story, what the man thought within himself, and what he said within himself. You will notice there is not a single whisper of God in the whole. God was not in all his thoughts. David describes the fool as the man who says in his heart there is no God; but David does not say, "the fool hath said with his lips." There are many who say it in their hearts that have not the courage to do it with their lips, and I challenge the Holyoakes and the Bradlaughs, who deny God's being, to say that their understanding leads them to this conclusion; it is the heart — "the fool hath said in his heart," not in his brain but in that rotten heart that hates what is holy. And because this man lived as if there was no God, God calls him a fool.
II. BECAUSE HE TOOK NO ACCOUNT OF THE PEOPLE. He never thought of anybody but himself — selfish to the backbone. And the text describes him laying up a treasure for himself. That little word "I," occurs six times — what I am to do. He had just one idea in his head, and not a very big one — to make himself as rich and as jolly as he could be. He made a god of himself, and had not a thought of any living outside of himself. Hoarding up from time to time, and all for number one. Lest it be supposed we speak hardly of this man, let us admit that we all have a touch of this. Some men are better at "raking than pitching," better at raking in than pitching out to other people. What a fool is that man who does not make good use of his money when living. He is like a hog, that is good for neither draught like the horse, nor for clothing like the sheep, nor for milk as the cow, nor for watch as the dog, but only, after he is dead, to be cut up and parcelled out amongst his friends; and because he was such, God called him a fool.
III. BECAUSE HE TOOK NO ACCOUNT OF HIS OWN SOUL. In one sense he did, for he says, "Soul, thou hast much goods"; but was not that just what showed what an outrageous fool he was; he thought his his immortal soul could subsist upon what money could bring — he was content with a mere brute existence. There is no greater folly than to suppose you can fill the soul with what satisfies the body. Your barns cannot hold what the soul demands any more than you can fill a wooden box with virtue. It was an old custom among the Romans, when at the bar and pleading as an idiot and not responsible (but many plead this, and have their senses), to place upon the table an apple and a nugget of gold — a beautiful tempting apple and a dull heavy golden nugget; if an utter idiot he was sure to seize the apple, if he had his senses he would touch the gold. Now the farmer, judged by this test, was a fool, for he chose the apple — not the imperishable treasure, but the short-lived pleasures of this world. Perhaps, we have some like this here to-day. You can scarce give a thought to the world that is to come. Every day in the week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, finds you immersed in business, all for this world, all for the poor dying body; and the more you get, the more impatient you are to get more, for prosperity is like salt water, the more you drink the thirstier you become. Some live only to get rich and pamper this poor dying body, but God says to you this afternoon, "Thou fool."
IV. ONCE MORE, HE WAS A FOOL BECAUSE HE TOOK NO ACCOUNT OF ETERNITY. The idea of death never entered into his mind, only of enjoying what he had laid up. I ask any sensible man if this was not folly. Suppose you are about to go to New York, and you make provision for the distance to Liverpool and no farther; is that not folly? But this man had started on an everlasting journey, and all the preparation he made was for a few steps this side of the grave; he was struck down that night, as thousands have been since, and, doubtless, as some here to-night may be. Jesus never took a brash or painted a picture like this without meaning us to learn a solemn lesson from it. We are all ready to say what a fool that man was to take no account of these things. But, stay, hear what Jesus adds: So many are there "that layeth up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." And this is the question with which I close now. Are you laying up treasure for this world, or are you rich towards God? Have you accepted the riches of God's grace in Christ Jesus, as a guilty sinner? Have you thrown yourself into the Saviour's arms, and found pardon and peace for your soul? My message to-night is, that if you have not, you are lost; believe in Him and you are saved.
(J. T. Davidson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: