And Jesus said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’ -Luke 12.15
Covetousness is nothing new, but it is steadily tearing our country apart. Ron Colone wrote an op ed piece in the Santa Ynez Valley News. His conclusion is quite bracing:
Well, know this, Black Friday has 100 percent to do with the promotion of covetousness, which is greed, materialism, envy and avarice. These are not the kinds of feelings that can raise us to our own higher ground. Instead, they condemn us to cold-heartedness and small-mindedness.
Jesus spoke the words above to His followers in order to challenge them regarding their spiritual wellbeing. The instruction actually came upon the heels of being asked to settle a family dispute. A man in one of the crowds that typically gathered around Jesus called out, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me” (12.13).
Jesus instantly knew that the man had his mind fixed on earthly and temporal matters rather than spiritual and eternal matters of the heart. The focus in our lives should be to take root downward in order to bear fruit upward. The Lord simply would not allow this man to put Him in such a place. He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”
The Lord Jesus wouldn’t allow this man to put Him in a place where He would be settling a family squabble about money. At any rate, the core of this man’s problem was covetousness (greed and avarice). Contrary to popular opinion, life is not made up of possessions. Possessions are tools to serve not chains to bind.
How are we to know whether or not we are bound by our possessions? First, we must examine the way in which we pursue them. Does it make a whole of sense to wait in line outside of a department store for four days in order to purchase a widescreen television at a deeply discounted rate? Consider the opportunity costs in making this foolish choice? How much time was sacrificed which could have been better used for eternal pursuits? Second, we must examine just how delusional we are to think that possessions will satisfy. A lot of rich entertainers and athletes prove this point with their self-destructive choices. It would not take long to marshall serveral examples to prove this point. Finally, we must pause to recognize just how debasing and destructive rampant materialism is. It will be the ruination of our country.
Life is too short to justify our drive for more in the United States of America. It is good to find out early in life that blessing comes to those who behave as a sieve. The wealth comes in, we pray for discernment, and we distribute it to those who have true needs to be met. As we think of the month ahead of us, may the Lord grant us the wisdom to see that all we have comes from Him (Psalm 24). Wealth is simply a tool to serve others and to ultimately serve our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. After all, we are not redeemed with precious possessions, but rather with the precious blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Jim Oesterwind is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Antioch, CA.
This article first appeared at Sun and Shield.