Have you ever wanted something you did not have? Have you ever wanted more of something, you already had? And, have you ever wanted it with a deep passion? Millions of people experience this. If this is you, God urges caution.
A young man once asked Jesus to get involved in a personal matter and make his brother divide the family inheritance with him. In response, Jesus made a profound statement, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).
Jesus laid his finger on the real issue with the young man. Coveting. What does it mean? It is a strong inner desire to get what you do not already possess, or more of what you already have. Jesus illustrated the danger of coveting with a story about a wealthy farmer that had a tremendous harvest. He said to himself, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” (Lk. 12:17) He already had storage places, but his current harvest was so large it would not do, so he made a decision, “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.” (Lk. 12:18) He built, not just for the grain surplus, but for all his current and future goods he would purchase as well. With anticipation, he imagined his future, telling himself, “. . . you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” (Lk. 12:9)
Do you see anything missing in the story? God and others. The heart of this man was exclusively focused on himself. God provided the light, rain, soil and growth for his crops, but He receive no acknowledgement. The farmer did not do this all alone, there were others that were part of the process, but neither did they receive any acknowledgement. And the farmer had all his basic needs met, he had so much beyond what he needed, yet he gave no thought to others who were less fortunate.
It was all about his desire for more, and to hold on to whatever he had. The Bible says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money . . .” (Ecclesiastes 5:10) How true! The farmer was walking down this deceptive path. He thought he could trust in his prosperity to enable him to “relax, eat, drink and be merry.” How wrong he was. For God spoke to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Lk. 12:19)
That is a wise question from God, which points out two things. One, the man has a spiritual soul that would live forever, beyond the grave. He paid no attention to it. Coveting caused him to live only for the here and now, and to neglect preparing for the next life. Two, God pointed out that upon death, all the man has toiled to acquire and keep, will no longer be his. Death will mercilessly tear it out of his hands.
Coveting is condemned by God. Why? Because it causes a person to place their trust in things, rather than God, which is a form of idolatry. It puts one’s money and possessions above Him. This angers God, who is worthy of our worship and service. Coveting is also condemned because of its danger. It can lead people to commit fraud, extortion or other crimes, where one so desires something, they debase themselves in pursuit of it.
Jesus suffered, died and rose again that you might live to place your trust in Him. He is sufficient for all your needs. And in Him is life, peace and joy unlike anything else in this world. Today, admit your coveting. Turn from it and find all you need in Christ.
A prayer for you. “Lord God, we are sorry we have made things more important than you. We confess our coveting and idolatry of stuff in this life. Take our heart. Wash it clean. Become the highest priority in our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Clint Decker is President of Great Awakenings. Please share your comment with Clint at email@example.com and follow his blog at clintdecker.blogspot.com.
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