The Review and Herald


June 19, 1894

Parable of the Rich Man


“And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” The man who asked this from Christ did not receive the benefit that it was his privilege to receive from the lessons that the great Teacher was giving to the people. Selfishness directed his thoughts into a different channel from that in which the Master would direct them, and the man thought within himself that if he could only turn the power of Christ in a direction by which he could be benefited in a pecuniary way, it would be a matter of congratulation. He saw that the words of Christ were attended with convincing power; that he was capable of putting matters in a clear light; that he spoke as one having authority; and the man thought that Jesus would have influence with his brother, and command him to do him the justice he thought was his due. His request was in keeping with his character; for he was one who thought that business, the attainment of property, was the one thing of importance. RH June 19, 1894, par. 1

Jesus had been presenting to the people the perils that were before them, and had clearly set forth the position which it would be safe for them to occupy in the emergency and crisis soon to come. But in the midst of this solemn instruction the man revealed his selfish, grasping disposition, making manifest the fact that he had not been benefited by spiritual realities; for they had taken no hold upon his mind and heart. RH June 19, 1894, par. 2

He would have been able to appreciate that ability of the Lord which would work to advance his own temporal affairs, and enable him to gain the financial good that he could not otherwise attain. He reasoned upon the matter that Jesus claimed to have come down from heaven. His brother had defrauded him of his portion of the inheritance. His own efforts to obtain justice having failed, if he could now persuade Christ to tell his brother that he must share the substance with him, it would have proved a very fortunate circumstance that he happened to stop to listen to the instruction that Jesus was giving to the people. He would then be glad that he had heard the stirring appeals, the sweeping denunciations of Christ against the scribes and Pharisees for their injustice and unfaithfulness. O, if the Master will but speak words of such command to my brother, he will not dare longer to refuse me my rightful portion. RH June 19, 1894, par. 3

The gaining of his inheritance was the all-absorbing theme with this man. He was avaricious, grasping, and there is no evidence given that his heart was moved by any spiritual truth. The solemn admonitions given did not cause him to feel that he desired to know more concerning eternal realities. And Christ said unto him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Our Lord could not justify the feelings of this man, and could not adjust the difficulties in reference to his earthly possessions; but he could strike a blow at the very root of the trouble, and he said to the people, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness.” If your thoughts are running in this channel, you are in peril. No man will become great in the sight of God because he has large possessions. Wealth does not make men either great or happy. The main question to be considered is, How shall I obtain eternal riches? How shall my soul become rich with the heavenly endowment,—the grace of God! Earthly goods, however valuable, sink into insignificance, in comparison with heavenly riches. RH June 19, 1894, par. 4

“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, 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?” This man had received everything from God. The sun had been permitted to shine upon his land; for it falls on the just and on the unjust alike. The showers of heaven fall on the evil and the good. The Lord had caused vegetation to flourish, and the fields to yield fruit, and bring to perfection an abundant harvest. The rich man was in perplexity as to what he should do with all his produce. He regarded himself as favored above other men, and took credit to himself for his wisdom. He had great wealth, and could not reproach himself with the sins of which many were guilty. He had obtained his goods, not by gambling, not by taking advantage of another's misfortune who had been involved in financial embarrassment, and who was obliged to sell his goods below cost; but his wealth had been obtained through the providence of God in causing his land to yield abundantly. But the man revealed his selfishness, and manifested that which he did not before suspect was in his character. He did not think of God, the great Giver of all his blessings. He did not consider his accountability to God. He was inconveniently oppressed with a superabundance of earthly treasure; but he expressed no thanks to God, and called his treasures his own. Had he loved and feared God, he would have offered up thanksgiving, and bowed before God, saying, “Instruct me how to use these goods. I could have no such abundance were it not because of thy divine agency, and now enable me to use these gifts of thine in a wise way.” This man did no such thing. He did not think of the One from whom his mercies had come, nor realize that God had made him a steward of his goods, in order that he help the needy. He had a blessed opportunity of being God's almoner. His barns were full and overflowing, and he had no place to put the surplus of his harvest. But he did not do as the Lord had directed in his word,—give to the poor. He made himself a center, and thought only of ministering to his own comfort. RH June 19, 1894, par. 5

Every day the situation of the poor, the orphan, the widow, the suffering, the afflicted, was brought to this rich man's attention, and there were plenty of places in which to bestow his goods. How easily could he have relieved himself of a portion of his goods, and how many homes would have been freed from the pressure of want. How many hungry could have been fed, how many naked clothed, how many hearts made glad, how many prayers answered for bread and clothing, and what a melody of praise could he have caused to ascend to heaven. The Lord was answering the prayers of the poor and needy, and was making abundant provision for the supply of all their wants by the blessing he had bestowed upon the rich man. But the man made suddenly so rich, closed the avenues of his soul to the cry of the needy; and in place of disposing of his superabundance of goods in supplying their needs, he said to his servants, “This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.” RH June 19, 1894, par. 6

Notwithstanding all the wants and necessities of those around him, notwithstanding the plain directions of the word of God, notwithstanding the statement, “He that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord,” he went forward with his plans, which embraced only his own selfish desires. He said, “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” RH June 19, 1894, par. 7

The eye of Him who never slumbers or sleeps was upon the man. He saw that he had proved an unfaithful steward, in neglecting the poor and the needy. And though the man was looking forward to many years of enjoyment, while he was saying, “Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry,” the Lord was making different calculations. God's judgment fell upon him. And 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? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” He had thought himself rich and increased in goods, and in need of nothing, and he knew not that he was spiritually poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked. “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness and judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord,” “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” RH June 19, 1894, par. 8

(Concluded next week.)