This is Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn’s depiction of the “Rich Fool” as described in Jesus’ parable. Rembrandt lived from 1606-69. (Courtesy Photo)

Jesus told his Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-21 to illustrate the folly of putting the things of this life ahead of eternal life.

The Revs. Dudley Mullins and Tim O’Neal say the parable does not say it’s wrong to be successful, just that the sense of ownership is fallacious because everything belongs to God.

“I use that parable a lot in funeral messages, especially Verse 20 where God says, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’” said the Rev. Mullins, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Kermit.

“A man and his brother were fighting over their inheritance when Jesus said, ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed. A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’”

Mullins said people become fools when they do not give God credit for what he has done.

“The material blessings of life are either a mirror in which we see ourselves or a window through which we see God,” he said.

Citing the late theologian Warren Wiersbe of Lincoln, Neb., Mullins said, “We’re fools if we make plans that leave out God.

“There is nothing wrong with the desire to build more barns, but the reality is that we are not the owners. We are only the stewards. The rich fool was confused between ownership and stewardship.”

Mullins said it is equal folly to live only for the moment.

“The rich fool was only concerned for the physical life, based on his vision of the future as continuing under his control,” he said. “You expect every year to be as good as the one when you made four or five times your usual crop, but the fact is that it won’t be.

“We’re fools when we store up our treasure in the wrong places.”

The Rev. O’Neal, pastor of Refuge Ministries, said the parable shows that it is a mistake “to work and plan and think you have organized your whole life around what your goals and ideas are.

“The reality is that we should be focusing on our relationship with God and not be trying to gain things here on earth, wasting all this time and effort on success that will fade away,” he said. “Only our relationship with God will last forever.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t have material things, but that shouldn’t be what we strive for. We should be striving for the things of God. We should be less concerned about what we can gain and more concerned about what we can give.”

O’Neal said watching what the world does can lead to idolizing the rich and famous. “Jesus told this story because he was concerned about the people’s salvation,” he said.