Guarding against covetousness

He told the people, “Be careful to guard yourselves from every kind of greed. Life is not about having a lot of material possessions.”

Luke 12:15

Yeshua cautions us to be mindful that we are not overcome with covetousness. The roots of some of the words used here mean to desire to “superabound” with “numerically more” material things.

Contextually, this admonition is sandwiched being questioned by a man wanting Yeshua to act as an arbiter in determining the distribution of an inheritance between brothers, and the parable of the rich man who stores up excessive grain for the future only to die that night.

A desire to have an abundance of wealth or material possessions is, for most people, a desire for security in life. Whether it’s financial savings plans, 401K retirement plans, or winning the lottery, we desire to have an assured future. If we know we have more than enough for the moment, then our ongoing provision is accounted for. Yeshua provides the reasoning behind why this should not be our primary focus in life.

First of all, we may work hard to save for our future, only to have our life end prematurely (from our perspective), and who would then be the recipient of everything we had worked so hard to attain? Was all that work and time spent collecting all of that wealth really the best use of our resources while we lived?

Additionally, it does not allow us to be rich towards God. If God blesses us, we should be faithful in using those material blessings to bless others, as he has done with us. This is how the child honors the Father and demonstrates their true spiritual lineage; by becoming like him.

Further, the apostle Paul provides a stern warning regarding covetousness to the believers in Colosse:

Put to death, therefore, whatever is worldly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:5

Greed, the desire for more and more material things for personal security and satisfaction, is idolatry. This must be put to death, a term of finality; there is no middle ground. We need to be vigilant in removing all unrighteous practices from our lives, and idolatry is the primary indicator of rebellion against God. When we seek to trust our provision (which we can see) more than our Provider (whom we cannot see), then we have fallen prey to idolatry.

God promises to meet our needs, not our wants, but in so doing, we should demonstrate generosity with others out of respect for his care for us. If you really desire to have an abundance, then rather than being an idolater, be an abundant giver.

Give, and you will receive. A large quantity, pressed together, shaken down, and running over will be put into your pocket. The standards you use for others will be applied to you.”

Luke 6:38

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