The textbook definition of “rich” is to have an abundance of possessions. In ancient Palestine, being rich would include large amounts of animals, land, and bountiful harvests. The maintenance and storage of all that was accumulated was accomplished “on site” and required designated structures to ensure the safekeeping and custody of acquisitions. In modern times, the storage and retrieval of wealth can be accomplished online in a matter of minutes with no concern about running out of space. An IRA or 401K can grow to a point where it can provide income for our retirement years. No “bigger barns” necessary for storage, just a future involving rest, eating, drinking, and being merry. A large “nest egg” will provide for any and all needs, at least in theory. While financial security can seem to ensure many years of comfort, there are no guarantees. A sudden loss of health or a fatal accident can disrupt even the best of plans. Jesus explains this reality in the (now famous) parable from the Gospel of Luke:
“Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’ And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!” But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus, will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” (Luke 12:16-21)
To be rich in what matters to God is to store up treasure in Heaven. This divine “bank” receives our “deposits” of love and pays us back with interest. When we give to God, our offerings are multiplied and distributed in a way that comes back to us “thirty, sixty or a hundred-fold”.