We all know about identity theft—the illegal activity where someone steals your credit card, chequebook or bank account access and pretends to be you. When caught, an identity thief will be prosecuted and go to jail.

In Jesus story, the rich farmer seems to think that the successful crop entitles him to take credit and reward himself. In essence though, he is stealing God’s identity. The farmer arranged to plant seed and harvest crops, but he did not give credit to God for bringing the increase. Only God could cause the growth.

Instead of giving credit where credit is due, consider how many times he refers to me, myself and I.

Luke 12:
16-19 Then he told them this story: “The farm of a certain rich man produced a terrific crop. He talked to himself: ‘what can I do? My barn isn’t big enough for this harvest.’ Then he said, ‘here’s what I’ll do: I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll gather in all my grain and goods, and I’ll say to myself, Self, you’ve done well! You’ve got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’

We need to guard our hearts against believing that we are the authors of our own success. Certainly, our efforts make a difference and we need to do our part, but you can work hard and fail. Your wisest plans can end in ruin. When we believe that success and failure are solely dependent on self, we miss the role that God has in ordering our steps.

The rich farmer does not acknowledge God’s part in the successful crop. He does not acknowledge his hard-working servants who likely did most of the work.

If you experience any success or prosperity in life, you are not entitled to take all the credit for it. Instead of thinking about how we are going to expand our wealth, how about considering how we will benefit others? If the rich farmer is not giving glory to God, who or what is he worshipping?

When possessions are the goal, people become pawns. In fact, a reversal of the created order occurs, as those made in the living image of God come to serve dead non-images. It is this inversion of the created order that makes greed such a notorious sin; it is even called idolatry in some texts (Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5)… For some, the material world is god. Many of us end up serving our dollars and bowing before their demands rather than relating sensitively to people. In the process relationships can be damaged and marriages destroyed. False worship involves bowing before something that is not worthy of honor and that cannot deliver life's true meaning. The pursuit of wealth is the pursuit of false religion.[i]

[i] The IVP New Testament Commentary