Summer 2012: Insights from an Unwise Farmer
Author: Dan Gabbert
Publish date:
Summary: A story about an unwise farmer has lessons for us about where we're storing our wealth.

A Story of an Unwise Farmer

An ancient king, greatly pleased with his court jester, gave him a ring as a gift. “Keep this,” the king told him, “until you find a greater fool than you; then give it to him.”’

Years passed. The king, now old and sickly, was about to die. He called for his jester to come and amuse him.

“O king,” the court fool exclaimed, “what is the trouble with you?”

The king said, “I am soon going on a long journey.”

gold jewellry

“When will you return?” asked the jester.

“I will never return,” the king replied.

“Sir,” the jester queried anxiously, “have you made preparation for the journey?”

The king paused a moment in sad reflection.

“Alas,” he said slowly, “I have not.”

Incredulously, the court fool looked at the dying monarch. Slipping the ring from his own finger, he pressed it into the hand of his king. “Here, sir, take this,” the simple one urged, “for surely anyone who would go on such a journey without preparation is a greater fool than I.”

A Fool and his Treasure

When Jesus was on earth, He told a story with a similar lesson. We read the account in Luke 12:16-20:

The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?

God called this prosperous man a fool. In Thayer's Greek Dictionary, the word translated “fool” means “without reason, senseless, and foolish.” How could God call such an individual senseless and foolish? The man knew how to farm and raise good crops. He was determined to make ample provision for storage. He was rich. The world would call him wise and successful. Yet God called him a fool. Why?

Our first clue is found in verse 19, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” This man was a fool because he planned only for this present, fleeting life. Like the ancient king in our earlier story, he had made wise provisions for everything but his soul. God declares such actions senseless, foolish, and without reason.

This successful farmer was honest with everyone but God. He gave the Lord no credit. Deuteronomy 8:18 makes it very clear: “But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth.” But this man forgot! Worldly activities and treasures became his sole concern. His time and thoughts were consumed with crops, livestock, barns, the latest farming technology—everything but God.

The Bible declares such a man a fool. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” This condition of the heart will overtake anyone who chooses to allow the “lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:15-17) to shut God out of his life. That person declares, “I need not worry about death and judgment. I am too occupied with activities and time to be concerned about eternity!” However, the Lord says that a person who makes every provision for this life but who fails to prepare for the next is “without reason, senseless, a fool.”

Whether we be rich or poor, there is another type of planting, harvesting, and storing going on that contains eternal consequences for each of us. It is the farming done in the mind. Whatever information we choose to consistently plant in our minds will produce a corresponding harvest in words and actions. And, if treasured long enough, it will also be stored in the form of thought-habits that will ultimately determine our destiny.

Think about this: Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Matthew 12:34-35 tells us, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” And Galatians 6:7 concludes, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

This vital truth is also communicated in Christ's Object Lessons:

The defects cherished in dealing with life’s minor details pass into more important affairs. A man acts on the principles to which he has accustomed himself (356, emphasis added).

The cherished defects—our unChristlike thoughts and responses—stem from the unhealthy information we choose to store in the granary of our mind. Then, when we continue to think and respond to life situations with any of these cherished defects, unhealthy habits are developed that can ultimately lead us to reject our loving Saviour.

Eternity's Bookkeeping Law

Jesus says in Matthew 16:26, “What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” The rich man in the parable, with all his sharp handling of business affairs, failed to reckon with this spiritual reality: when we die, we take nothing with us. “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither,” says Job 1:21. 1 Timothy 6:7 clearly says, “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” At death, the pile of gold stored in the vaults of the world’s richest man means no more than the pile of gold stored in the desires of the mind of the most abject beggar. Neither wealth nor memory can purchase anything beyond the grave.

Here is eternity’s basic bookkeeping law: "Death closes all accounts.” Jesus declares that anyone who disregards this solemn truth is senseless, a fool! “This night,” the parable states, “thy soul shall be required of thee” (Luke 12:20). The man’s wealth could purchase no reprieve. In a moment, the accumulated possessions of a lifetime became worthless. At no price could he buy time to prepare for death. What an awful sentence pronounced upon a man who did not want to die! He was just preparing to live! He was planning to “eat, drink, and be merry,” but God said no. “This night thy soul shall be required of thee.”

man reading Bible
Dear reader, we are here today and gone tomorrow. None of us know what the next day will bring. “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). We lay our plans and expect to carry them out. We hope everything will work out for our best interests. But many people postpone a relationship with the Eternal Life-Giver. They fill their minds with the cares of the world—leaving no time for the things of God—and then expect someday to leave the ways of the world and walk with God.

It's an awesome fact that science has made giant strides toward disease prevention and control. Many of the old “killers” have been subdued or conquered. But all the genius of the world’s most brilliant minds cannot conquer death. Our only safe course is to always be ready. Our Lord Jesus Christ calls to you and me in Matthew 24:44: “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

Precious friends, Jesus is coming very soon! I'm so thankful none of us have to remain unprepared for this eternally life-changing event! To be in earnest about being ready at all times is the reasonable thing to do. This is the only safe course to follow!

You ask, how shall I begin? Steps to Christ gives us the place to start:

Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, 'Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.' This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ (70).

Do not neglect to take a daily portion of time in the Bible getting to know our loving Lord and His ways more intimately. Don’t let the days slip by with your mind totally occupied like the “thorny ground” hearers in Luke 8:14 who hear God's Word, but “go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” Rather, choose to be a “good ground” hearer, “which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). Think about it—where is your treasure?

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:20-21).

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