“How did he get to that point? What happened that he would do such a thing?”
Have you ever found yourself asking these questions about someone else? Or, how about in response to reading something in the Scriptures?
The parable of the rich fool in Luke 12 is one of those stories that begs these questions. Take a look,
Then he [Jesus] told them a parable: “A rich man’s land was very productive. He thought to himself, ‘What should I do, since I don’t have anywhere to store my crops? I will do this,’ he said. ‘I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones and store all my grain and my goods there. Then I’ll say to myself, “You have many goods stored up for many years. Take it easy; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is demanded of you. And the things you have prepared—whose will they be?’ “That’s how it is with the one who stores up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 CSB)
If you were to choose a word to describe this rich individual, I doubt “victim” would come to mind. Instead, you’d probably utter adjectives like “selfish,” “narcissist,” “prideful,” or “fool”—and rightly so! He is a selfish, narcissistic, prideful fool…but I believe he’s also a victim. He’s a victim when you begin asking questions like, “How did he get to that point? What happened that he would do such a thing?”
In those days, life was lived in tight knit community. The leading men of the village, of which you’d expect this man to be also a part of, would sit at the gate of the city day and night. The slightest transaction would be worthy of hours of discussion. And in those days, people wouldn’t make decisions on their own, they’d do it in community. Especially when there was a bumper crop!
But as we see in this passage, this man is not at the village gate, nor is he talking to the other elders of the city…he is dialoguing with himself.
This isn’t “normal.”
Now this man wasn’t an introvert who just needed time alone because that’s not how society functioned at this time. So there must be a reason why this was the case! He had either shunned others because he didn’t trust them, or he was shunned because he wasn’t trustworthy.
He was isolated, by himself, talking to himself, because he had no one else to talk to.
What kind of life do you think he would’ve had to live for this to be the case? What must’ve happened to him that he would live in such a way?
Isolation is the Enemy’s Goal
This is how the enemy works. He knows how to push our buttons. And he’ll do it to trigger guilt and shame in our lives, in order to make us hide and isolate from others.
For me, he uses criticism. But maybe for you it’s pornography, being too busy, food, alcohol, or drugs. Or maybe, it’s greed like the man in this story…
The enemy’s tactic is to use whatever, however and whenever, to fill us with so much guilt and shame, that we ultimately end up hiding and isolating from others—just like the man in this story. The enemy uses guilt and shame to distort our reality, turn us inward, and make us myopic and selfish. That’s why the man in this story had no one to talk to! He was a victim to the schemes of the enemy. The enemy used greed to fill this man with so much guilt and shame that he hid and isolated from others.
This is what sin does to us. It floods us with guilt and shame so that we want to hide.
In fact, do you remember Adam and Eve’s reaction in the Garden of Eden after they sinned? They were so full of guilt and shame that they hid! Isolated. They too were victims of the schemes from the enemy.
And you know what? This is what the enemy wants to do to you. He wants to isolate you from God, like he did in the Garden of Eden. And he wants to isolate you from others, like he did to this man in the parable. He wants you to be a victim too.
Restoration is Jesus’ Goal
But that’s not what Jesus wants for us! Jesus came to restore God’s original design, which is togetherness and not isolation. That’s why the Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit—three in one—altogether in perfect unity. That’s why God designed Adam and Eve to be the first community. And that’s why, after making the decision to follow Jesus, thousands of believers in the early church met in small groups to grow! They were following the model lived out by Jesus—gathering both in large groups for worship and teaching, and in smaller groups for connection and community.
Friends, if we live in community and connection with others, does that mean we won’t sin? Does that mean we will never be victims? And that we won’t encounter the isolating effects of guilt and shame? Of course not. The effects of sin and the flaming arrows of the evil one are still real and still present.
But when we live in intentional community, connection, and togetherness with one another—the power of guilt and shame won’t feel as strong anymore because community and connection with fellow believers fills us with grace, not guilt! Acceptance, not shame!
So when one of us is overwhelmed with guilt and shame because we’ve sinned…instead of the condemning feeling of sin, we can actually experience the grace, forgiveness, acceptance, and love of Jesus through one another.
That’s the beauty of community!
So my dear brothers, may we not fall into this trap. May we not let sin lead us into the isolating holes of guilt and shame. And may we not become victims of the enemy. Instead, may we turn to Jesus and find forgiveness, grace, and his loving presence and communion in and through his body—the church.