‘WATCH OUT’ against GREED and COVETOUSNESS! Then one from the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?" And He 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 12:13-15)
The above statement from Jesus teaches us to be alert about coveting material things in order to accumulate them for our own pleasures. This is because the insatiable lust for material possessions is one of the strongest drives that we may ever have! However, these material things will have to be forsaken as soon as we depart from this world. On the other hand, what will last is only what we have invested for eternity! For this reason alone, we need to store up true riches in heaven as we invest in spiritual matters and are rich toward God.
When God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, the tenth and last commandment was as follows: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's" (Exodus 20:17). To covet means to long for something we don’t have especially for what belongs to someone else. To covet is to be discontented with what God brings our way. It is based on the foolish belief that what matters in life is how much one has!
Nothing clogs our spiritual arteries more than money; either working to have a lot of it or, wishing to have a lot of it. Our life’s treasure is all about the richness of our relationship with Christ and the joy of being a faithful steward of the good things and talents that He has entrusted us.
The rich man, whom Jesus mentioned as an example of amassing goods for himself, did all the right things. He built a bigger barn to store food (vv. 16-18) instead of leaving it outside to spoil. In fact, he was like the industrious ant mentioned in Proverbs 6:6-8 who provided her own supplies in the summer and gathered her food during the harvest time. However, the problem with the rich man was that he left God out of the picture as he failed to realize that his life was in God’s Hands. He had failed to plan for eternity and store up true riches in heaven!
Let us always remember that our lives are not the sum total of the things we possess. God wants us to spend our time, treasure and talents in building His kingdom, not our own. The way we spend our time and resources says a lot about our eternal perspective. Let us pay attention to the old hymn that goes like this: “Only one life ‘twill soon is past; only what is done for Christ will last”. This is what Jim Elliot, the Christian martyr once said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Instead of building castles in the air with our own accomplishments, let us focus on things that matter most!