The Man with Six “I”s
Perhaps, if you didn’t see how “I’s” was spelled in the sub-title of this article, you might consider this to be the beginning of a scary tale. Sometimes things are not what they seem, for this is the beginning of a scary tale. Many times a scary tale is simply the working of words in fantasy made to indulge the senses, however, a scary tale can also be made to convey realities which bring more horror than the story itself.
The basics of the tale begin with a parable of Jesus. It is found in Luke 12:16-21. A parable is a story which is made up to convey a truth, principle, or lesson. The parable reads as follows:
Luke 12:16-21 – And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: and he reasoned within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have not where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry. But God said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
The parable is often referred to as “The man with six I’s”, because of the six “I” statements made within it. The principle set forth is that a man is foolish who focuses on getting ahead in life instead of focusing on God. The horror of the story is that despite all the man’s riches, all the man’s plans, all of his preparation to make it through his physical life, he did not do the same for the preparation of his soul. Thus, the day came when he died and would have no more time to prepare for the moment he stood before God.
I will be the first to admit, that often when I hear of terrible things happening to folks, it is not often I break down into tears for them. I know folks who do. I actually wish I would. Still, for whatever reason, my upbringing, my experiences, or perhaps simply because of how I am wired, I am not often shook by the tragedies of others. To be clear, I never wish tragedy on anyone. I try to help them where I can. Yet, for me to feel their pain, I often mentally have to put myself in their position. This is really the situation with the parable of “the man with six I’s”. I try to put myself in his situation to understand the horror of the circumstance.
So here is the tale of horror, put yourself into the story. You are a simple, average person (I Thess. 4:11). You work to provide for your family as you should (I Tim. 5:8). You try to save and plan for the future. You try to fill your extra time focusing on your family. You take small trips on the weekends to reward the family or you have friends over to BBQ. You involve the kids in sports. You take a few hours each Sunday to watch the football games after church. You have invested in a few toys, but not too extravagant (the neighbors have more). You understand that you are reaching those slowing down years and you still haven’t focused much on God – but you plan on it. You just don’t seem to have much spare time and you are getting tired. Then, one day, you experience major pains in the chest. You holler for help, but the family is off to the store. You dial 911, but before anyone gets there, it is too late. You are dead. Your time is up. You realize the afterlife is a reality. It is more than just some moral lessons on a Sunday morning. Will you panic? Will you be prepared? Will you realize your life was spent as a “fool”.
No man has an excuse for not having a knowledge of God (Romans 1:18-21) Some have made use of that knowledge and look forward with peace to their last day on earth. Others as Hebrews 10:31 states, find “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” This is the horror that awaited the man with the 6 I’s. His focus had not been God. It was not his priority. Yet, Matthew 6:33 tell us “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” Be certain, God does not owe anyone salvation. Man does not earn it. However, God does expect certain things of man. You can win a prize from a radio contest, but if you don’t go and pick it up, you won’t get it. They expect you to drive down and visit. So, how do you not end up like the man with 6 I’s, fearful, and unprepared? What is it that God wants?
Yes, there is a full Bible full of 66 books explaining the behavior God desires of mankind. However, I believe I can sum them up with a few key points.
First, God desires you to put Him first in your life.
Matthew 22:37 And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. God knows you have time you must work and provide for your family. He knows there must be times of rest (Mark 6:31-32). He understands you must pay attention to your spouse (I Corinthians 7:32-25, Eph. 5:28). There is an understanding you must direct and raise your children (Eph. 6:1-4). So what does putting God first mean? Colossians 3:17 – tells us, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”. This means everything you do, must have God’s blessing, his authority. Indeed, 2 Pet. 1:3 states he has given us all we need for life and godliness. So we are not without direction (see the Bible). When we love Him, we do so by keeping his commandments John 14:15. These are not a burden to those that love God (Mat. 11:30).
Second God desires you to love your neighbor (James. 2:8).
Your neighbor is mankind. This means you have his best interests at heart. It means you are kind and good to them. It requires you to be not only concerned for their physical well being, but their spiritual well being. This means you must share God’s Word with them (2 Tim. 2:24). The only way you can do that is to study it (2 Tim. 2:15). At times, you must be able to defend what you believe and protect them from false teaching (I Pet. 3:15, Jude 1:20-23). Above all, you must live the proper example to keep them from stumbling away from what God wants them to do (I Cor. 10:23-24).
Third God desires you to live a life of purity.
Eph 4:17-24, directs we give up the pride, lusts, and greediness. Romans 13:13-14 points us to giving up the sexual sins (those outside the sexual relationship between man and wife) and to put away drinking and partying. Our behaviors and surroundings should be those of wholesomeness, purity, and virtue (Phil. 4:8). Our speech should not be that which corrupts, but that which builds up (Ephesians 4:29). Your life should be one that when people say something bad about you, it will only bring them shame, because there is nothing to sinfulness to convict you (I Pet. 3:16).
Fourth God desires you to worship Him.
What is worship? It is “kissing toward” or showing respect to God. In John 4:24, Jesus establishes that worship is something that must be done by worshippers with a focus on God in your heart and with actions he has commanded. Some folks wonder if it is an ego thing that makes God want you to worship Him. I think it is a common sense thing. He has given you a brain in your head that should make you say, “Wow! God cares about me. He provides for me. He blesses me every single day. How can I not show my love for Him!” This is not something that is pointed out in only one verse of the Bible but is stated over and over throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament (I Sam. 12:24, I Kings 2:4, 3:6, II Kings 20:3, Josh. 24:14, Ps. 86:11, Is. 38:3). It’s seriousness is demonstrated by historical examples of God’s direct punishment upon men due to their disobedience of his commands. God wants what he has stated, not what man dreams up or thinks God wants. Man has been commanded to assemble together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7) and at that time engage in worship. Elements of worship can and do occur at other times as well, but the first day of the week has been identified as a time of assembly which man is not allowed to skip based on their earthly desires.
Following these points, you do not have to feel horror at the day of your death as did the man with six “I’s”. Do these four points tell you all you need to know? In general yes, in specific no, this is why it is mentioned that we must study. We must put God as our focus and learn of his ways. God knows we all have varying obligations in our lives. However, he does not excuse us from sharing His word. He knows if we have put him first in our lives or put other things first (Matthew 25:14-30, I John 3:18-20, James 4:17). He knows if we have applied the fruit of the spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23). He knows if we have lived lives serving others or ourselves. That was the tragedy of the man with the six “I’s”, it was all about him and no one else. Let us not make his horrible tale our own, but find peace and salvation in God (John 6:68, 2 Peter 1:2).