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‘You can’t take it with you’ – the parable of the Rich Fool

Posted in Bible, Parables, Religion on Wednesday, 13 February 2013

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This edited article about the Bible originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 133 published on 1 August 1964.

Death and the Jew, picture, image, illustration

An engraving of an episode from the ‘Dance of Death’, painted in 1441

Jesus once told His hearers of a man whose career seemed to be a real “success story.” We do not know his name, nor how his career began, but we learn that when he was not much more than middle-aged he was already a prosperous land-owner.

One day he was walking round his estate, planning what alterations and improvements were needed. Everywhere his employees were busy with new developments. Wells were being dug, lambs and calves sent off to market, fences being set up around the growing crops.

Although the harvest was still several months away, it was clear that more of his ground was under cultivation than ever before, and that everything pointed to record crops when the time came.

“I doubt whether we shall have room to store all this grain in the present buildings, sir,” said one of the assistants who was following the owner respectfully round the fields. “Even last year we only just found room for it all. Really the barns are no longer big enough.”

“Then we must have bigger ones!” answered the owner with a laugh.

“Do you mean to build on to the old ones, sir? There would easily be time for that before the harvest.”

“No, I don’t mean that at all,” replied the owner gaily. “I mean to pull the old barns down, and build new ones. Barns so big that they will hold even larger harvests than this one. If we start right away we can have them ready by harvest time. Yes, that is what we must do, and we shall start first thing in the morning.”

On his way home the wealthy and ambitious landowner felt very pleased with his scheme.

“The way things are going will mean I can store up several years’ supplies,” he said to himself. “That means I can afford to retire. From now on life will be easy. I can look forward to years and years of leisure, with nothing to do but enjoy myself.”

Perhaps it was to be expected that he would eat and drink rather too freely that night. Many friends joined him at supper, and congratulated him on the big development scheme that he had planned.

When he finally went to bed he was unusually tired, and felt a little strange. This was nothing to worry about, he thought, just over-excitement. Even a brief spasm of pain did not alarm him.

When the servants came to call their master next morning he failed to answer. Eventually they entered his room, and found him dead. Rough plans of the new buildings lay on the floor. So preoccupied had he been with these, that he forgot the fact that his life was a gift from God, and that God sometimes calls people back to Himself when they are least ready, and least expect His summons.

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