The Rich Fool’s New Car

I’m buying a new car today. It’s not actually new but new to me. It’s a sweet ride and a bit of an indulgence. Do I really need it? Not exactly. Is it okay for me to buy it? Good question. Let’s weigh the options.

After using the parable of the rich fool to opine about binge TV and wasting time, I found myself looking back to the actual parable and what it says about possessions. So let’s remind ourselves of it:

A rich man’s land was very productive. He thought to himself, “What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there.  Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.'”

But God said to him, “You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?” (Luke 12:16-20)

What a fool! We can all agree on that, right? But what should the rich fool have done? What actions in response to his great harvest would have earned him God’s approval rather than disdain? What could this man do with his bumper crop other than use it to coast into the sunset? Let’s explore the possibilities.

He could leave it out exposed to the elements where the rain and the rats would compete to ruin it first. Surely we can agree that God would not be pleased with that sort of stewardship.

He could give it away to the needy. Is that a good use of the crop? Apparently the rich man was going to be able to feed himself and his entourage for many years to come. It stands to reason that he could have fed a much larger group for a shorter span of years. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But of course when it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t spend or give away the same dollar (or bushel of grain) twice.

He could sell it and then invest the proceeds. If this man had a hundred acres, perhaps his excess could be sold in order to fund the purchase of a hundred or two hundred more acres. Whatever good could be done with the crop from the smaller lands could be magnified on the larger lands. But is purpose of profit simply to generate a bigger empire to create ever-bigger profits?

He could store it for a time of need. This is how Joseph saved Egypt in Genesis, isn’t it? The rich man could store his grain and then keep on producing more for future consumption. Then, when a bad situation arises, he could draw from those reserves and save the day. The downside to this approach is that he still has to build storage facilities and protect this reserve until bad times come.

Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t tell us what the rich fool should have done. He just lets us know that the man made the wrong choice. Is there a right answer to what he should have done?

Is there a right answer to what I should do with the extra money that appears in my bank account from time to time? In the past year, I’ve done some of all of these things. I’ve indulged a little bit. I’ve given some money and goods away. I’ve invested some money toward tomorrow, and I’ve simply stuck some into a savings account for an unforeseen need, like the opportunity to buy a car. Did I do it right?

Since Jesus didn’t give us exact instructions for dealing with whatever plenty he provides, I have to assume that he had a different way for directing us. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that through the Holy Spirit, “we have the mind of Christ.” The mind of Christ lets me know when I’m mishandling both my money and my time. I just have to ask and then listen to the response.

What does that say about the car? In reality, this choice is a no-brainer. The car pleases me, is priced right, can be purchased (easily) for cash, and should keep me driving reliably for another four or five years. And did I mention that it pleases me? Jesus never said we shouldn’t enjoy life a little.

One thought on “The Rich Fool’s New Car”

  1. Thank you ,
    This is the third article I have read of yours, and I must say that I am deeply touched. The fixing of your wife’s alternator were the first and second ones that I was lead directly to by Holy Spirit as I listened to His speaking to me. I was in need of understanding if I should fix my dearly beloved Honda Accord 1998 standard Dx with 254k miles(as you, in this post were unsure of the purchase of your vehicle). Did I mention it’s stick shift. (as you said in the end of this post) 🙂
    In this process of removing the spiritual earwax, the Lord showed me how he wants to be to me what the alternator needs to be to my car. (it dun seized up).
    Having my attention, the next day or so, I stumble upon this article, and am encouraged further to remain faithful to heed the advice in the classic verse regarding how we are to prioritize our lives always: Matt 6:33
    He literally dropped in my spirit a hope as I read each passage and He applied it to my situation perfectly.
    Right now it sits, deteriorating. Option one is a success! wait…
    Option two is to sell it to a junk yard for a hundred bucks or two. whoopie. This would satisfy my parents desire to see me do more ‘responsible’ things with my life…
    Option three: give away to car fixing charity. okay, better.
    Option 4: (and my hearts first choice) turn it into a rice burner racecar… ;P
    and Option number five, which I feel is the most logical and still pleasurable (#Ecclesiastes5:18-20) being to repair it myself, enjoying the meaningless toil under the sun, and save it for someone in need. I see loaning it or selling it and it’s value being restored. I see a potential business called Total Restorations: Body mind & soul… a way to use well what God has given me, and the desires of my heart. “And did I mention that it pleases me?” The joy I had when with my grandmother in her Accord of similar year, listening to the good doctor: Charles Stanley and many other broadcasts; waiting for her in the car, mesmerized by the buttons, features and sounds… I want to have that again and reproduce it, so that all who come into the car, whether in needing a ride, or in ownership, may feel God’s presence and be drawn to Him.
    Currently, I have no need of the vehicle. The 2005 GMC Envoy is more that sufficient to meet my needs and has been essentially given to me by my earthly and heavenly father.
    But that’s me; I want to help others too!
    Please keep me in prayer as I contemplate what God’s best for my life is, and as I try to listen & follow along. Thank you for these posts you have made. God is and will use them strategically in my life.
    (#”Jesus never said we shouldn’t enjoy life a little.”) my heart…

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