THERE was a man who came to see Jesus one day. He knew that Jesus was very wise, so he said to him: ‘Teacher, tell my brother to give me some of the things he has.’ The man thought he should have some of those things.
If you had been Jesus, what would you have said?— Jesus saw that the man had a problem. But the problem was not that he needed what his brother had. The man’s problem was that he did not know what was truly important in life.
Let’s think about this. What should be most important to us? Should it be having nice toys, new clothes, or things like that?— No, there is something that is much more important. And this is the lesson that Jesus wanted to teach. So he told a story about a man who forgot God. Would you like to hear it?—
This man was very rich. He owned land and barns. The crops that he planted grew very well. He did not have room in his barns to store all the crops. So, what was he going to do? Well, he said to himself: ‘I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I will store all my crops and all my good things in these new barns.’
The rich man thought that this was the wise thing to do. He thought that he was very smart to store up many things. He said to himself: ‘I have many good things stored up. They will last me for many years. So now I can take it easy. I will eat, drink, and enjoy myself.’ But there was something wrong with the rich man’s thinking. Do you know what it was?— He was thinking only about himself and his own pleasure. He forgot about God.
So God spoke to the rich man. He said: ‘You foolish man. You are going to die tonight. Now who will have the things that you stored up?’ Could that rich man use those things after he died?— No, someone else would get them. Jesus said: “So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.”
You don’t want to be like that rich man, do you?— His main purpose in life was the getting of material things. That was a mistake. He always wanted more. But he was not “rich toward God.”
Many people are like that rich man. They always want more. But this can lead to big problems. For example, you have toys, don’t you?— What are some of the toys that you have? Tell me.— What if one of your friends has a ball or a doll or some other toy that you don’t have? Would it be right for you to try to make your parents buy one for you?—
There may be times when a toy seems very important. But what happens to it after a while?— It gets old. It may fall apart, and then you don’t even want it anymore. Really, you have something that is much more precious than toys. Do you know what it is?—
It is your life. Your life is very important because without it, you can’t do anything. But your life depends on doing what pleases God, doesn’t it?— So let’s not be like that foolish rich man who forgot God.
Children are not the only ones who may do foolish things like that rich man. A lot of grown-ups do too. Some of them always want more than they have. They may have food for the day, clothing to wear, and a place to live. But they want more. They want lots of clothes. And they want bigger houses. These things cost money. So they work hard to get lots of money. And the more money they get, the more they want to have.
Some grown-ups become so busy trying to get money that they have no time to be with their family. And they have no time for God. Can their money keep them alive?— No, it can’t. Can they use their money after they die?— No. This is because the dead are not able to do anything at all.
Does this mean that it is wrong to have money?— No. We can buy food and clothing with money. The Bible says that it is a protection. (Ecclesiastes 7:12) But if we love money, then we are going to have trouble. We will be like that foolish rich man who stored up treasures for himself and was not rich toward God.
What does it mean to be rich toward God?— It means to put God first in our lives. Some people say that they believe in God. They think that believing is all that is needed. But are they really rich toward God?— No, they are like the rich man who forgot God.
Jesus never forgot his Father in heaven. He did not try to make a lot of money. And he did not own many material things. Jesus knew what was truly important in life. Do you know what that is?— It is being rich toward God.
Tell me, how can we be rich toward God?— We can be rich toward God by doing what pleases him. Jesus said: “I always do the things pleasing to him.” (John 8:29) God likes it when we do the things he wants us to do. Now tell me, what things can you do to please God?— Yes, you can read the Bible, go to Christian meetings, pray to God, and help others learn about him. Those are truly the most important things in life.
Because Jesus was rich toward God, Jehovah took care of him. He gave Jesus the reward of living forever. If we are like Jesus, Jehovah will love us and take care of us too. So may we be like Jesus and never be like that rich man who forgot God.
Here are some Bible texts that show how to have the proper view of material things: Proverbs 23:4; 28:20; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; and Hebrews 13:5.