The Rich Fool 20 SEPTEMBER 2020 | TRADITIONAL Services | Pastor Clement Ong

The Rich Fool


Pastor Clement Ong

Scripture Passage: Luke 12:13-21 (NIV)


(Click on video below)


Summary | More isn’t always better….

Context: Jesus was speaking to a crowd on spiritual matters when a man in the crowd asked Him to tell his brother to divide the inheritance with him. (It was Jewish practice then to refer such issues to spiritual leaders.) Clearly the man was not interested in spiritual matters but Jesus took the opportunity to address a deeper issue. He warned the crowd to be on guard against greed.

Greed in Greek is wanting more and more of various pursuits of life like wealth and possessions. It is associated with the Old Testament understanding of covetousness- to desire something to a fault to the extent of having it unlawfully (Ex 20:17). Here the man is struggling with greed, coveting more inheritance and placing inheritance above family relationship. Greed is a struggle for any man in the crowd as it is for all of us.

Parable: The thought process the rich man went through on what to do with his good crop sounds like saving up and financial planning for retirement. However, it was all about himself, there was no one else nor God in his life and plans. Jesus called the rich man a fool not because of his wealth but because he lived for himself and found satisfaction and security in his wealth.

Greed conforms to our self-centredness and consumes us when we find satisfaction in material possessions. (Ecc 5:10-11). It begins when we look at something that appears desirable and subtly works in us till it controls and consumes us. The end result is idolatory which brings about God’s wrath ( Col 3:5-7).

It is not wrong to have possessions but our security must be in God, not possessions. God who is rich towards us expects us to be rich towards Him and be a blessing to others. To quote the Greek philosopher Aristotle, “what good is prosperity if it does not provide opportunity for us to do good works?”

The message is not that we do not save for retirement or enjoy God’s blessings but about our priorities if God is truly enthroned in our hearts. Do we define life like the rich man or do we align our lives to God and His kingdom work to bless and redeem the world? Do others see God’s generosity and compassion in us? Do we find satisfaction in God?

We are stewards and not owners of our possessions which all belong to God. If our treasure is earthly possessions, then more isn’t better. Paul urged us not to put our hope in wealth but in God and to be rich in good deeds, generous in sharing that we may lay up treasures in heaven (1 Tim 6:17-19). For Christians, our future is secure in God.

(Sermon Notes by Woo Choi Yin )


1. It is possible to be a believer and a materialist at the same time. But it is not possible to be a committed disciple with divided priorities. Jesus said in Luke 16:13, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Do you need what you buy, or do you simply want it?

2. Have we been distracted by the constant pursuit of material possessions that greed has been seeded in our hearts?

3. Have we been defining life like the rich man, in terms of the material possessions or our wellbeing that we find satisfaction in?

4. How are our lives aligned? Is it towards ourselves and our desires? Or is it toward God and His Kingdom work to bless and redeem the world?

5. How can you grow towards being rich towards God and His kingdom work?