I was challenged by a question I recently read – What set of desires rules my heart? Paul Tripp asked that question in a devotional he wrote. In asking the question he pointed out that the desires that rule our hearts decide how we evaluate our lives, form the framework for decision-making, and shape how we think about the goodness and faithfulness of God. I was pondering all of that as I read the Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12. Verse 20 challenged me. It reads:
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?
The Rich Fool’s desires seemed to revolve around having ample goods and enjoying a life of pleasure. Verse 19 describes him wanting to relax, eat, drink, and be merry. Those things are not bad or evil in and of themselves, but the parable makes it clear that they are not desires worthy of ruling our hearts. Augustine, a church leader from the late 4th/early 5th centuries wrote about our tendency to be drawn to misplaced loves or desires. We can hurt ourselves and hinder our relationship with God when we are ruled by the wrong desires. I wish it was not the case, but I believe it is easy to embrace the wrong desires. And sadly, we can operate with those desires ruling our hearts and souls, and yet not grasp the danger we are living in.
The Rich Fool thought he was in a great spot in verses 18 and 19. But verse 20 brought him in touch with reality. Part of the value of reading Scripture is we are given the opportunity to be corrected by the Holy Spirit and taught how to set things right before we are required to give account for our souls.
My time in verse 20 is challenging me to ask my soul a couple of questions from the words in verse 21. First, Am I laying up treasures for myself? Another version of that question might be: Am I focused on my will instead of God’s will? The second question would be: Am I rich toward God? That question does raise the issue of giving money, but I think it also raises issues around the investment of my time and abilities too. As another weekend is coming, I need to set aside some time to answer those questions at more than a cursory level. The force of verse 20 challenges me to see this exercise as worthy of serious reflection and possibly correction. I would encourage you to join me in this exercise.