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Parables Bible Study 18: The Rich Fool

Title: Parables Bible Study 18: The Rich Fool

Subject: Trust in God

Age: 13+ years

Location: Luke 12:16-21

Handout for note taking: Bible Study Worksheet

Psalm 38/39.4-6 is a related text in the bible. It is a mediation of the vanity of gathering possessions.

Begin the Bible Study with a prayer. Read the passage, and then allow time for quiet reflection. Share the following notes on the parable.

In verse 13 of this parable, a request is put to Jesus. This request came after a discourse by the Lord about matters important to one's spiritual health and discipleship. Thus it shows that despite what we hear, we remain fixated on things of this world.[1] See also Matthew 20:20-21, "Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him. And He said to her, ‘What do you wish?' She said to Him, ‘Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.'"

Jesus' response to the request is heard in verses 14 and 15; His response shows Jesus' desire to avoid being caught up in the mundane. His concern is for our eternal souls.

Another related text to the Rich Fool is Matthew 16.26, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

The main problem presented in this parable is that the man does not see his wealth as a gift from God. This compares to the young man who asked what was needed to inherit eternal life, and his answer was presented in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

Another problem to note is in 12:21; it is that this man laid up the riches for himself. On wealth and being a Christian, Mark 10:23 says, "Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!'" James 5:1-6 says:
"Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you."

Mark 10:27, however, offers hope to all of this: "But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘with men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.'"

It is not wrong to be wealthy and a Christian. There is a way to avoid the peril found in James 5:1-6. The way out includes using our riches to serve the poor and making sure that we have a healthy attitude towards money. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us that it is the love of money that is the root of all evil.

Does this apply only to the rich? It does not. We all must be careful and aware of greed and covetousness. And all of us must be good stewards.

  • Ecclesiastes 5:10-11: "In the abundance of good things they who eat them also increase, but what virtue does the owner have from them, except to see them with his eyes? The sleep of a servant is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep."
  • Proverbs 11:28: "He who does not deal graciously with his own house will inherit the wind, And a man without discernment will be servant to one with discernment."

The root problem is seeing one's possessions for oneself and the mistake of evaluating one's life in terms related to what one possesses.

For consideration:

  • How am I possessed by my possessions?
  • Am I generous? Am I a good steward?
  • How do I use the gifts God has given me?

Allow time for discussion or reflection.

End the bible study with a prayer.

[1] The Parables, Archbishop Dimitry, p. 113.

Prepared by Fr. Evan Armatas

Click the link to return to the Parables Bible Study page or continue to the next Parables Bible Study session: The Servants Waiting for their Lord.