“And he said unto them, Take heed and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things he posesseth” (Luke 12v15)
In this text above, we see our LORD charging us to be wary of covetousness; in fact, He uses a phrase and a word which mean almost the same thing to stress his warning: “beware” and “take heed”. This is to reveal to us the subtlety of covetousness. And then another amazing revelation follows: a man’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of things he possesses.
As humans, we live in a world that clamours for ostentation; your worth is defined by how much you have. The outcome of this kind of thinking is that it breeds covetousness. Covetousness simply means craving for more than you need. It is the domineering influence that has pervaded many a society today. And covetousness is the root of virtually every form of worldliness and wickedness. It is packed with envy, jealousy, deviousness, meaningless competition etc. It is the reason why many people are striving to succeed-they feel they have to make a mark- to prove a point to others that they are worth more than what others think of them. Ecclesiastes 4v4 (TLB) tells us that “Then I observed that the basic motive for success is the driving force of envy and jealousy! But this too, is foolishness, chasing after the wind.” Covetousness is the spirit behind self-comparison (and perhaps, self-pity too!); it is in the heart of many capitalists-those whose products rake in profits at the expense of innocent lives. And sadly, it is the reason why many churches, in the name of ‘kingdom work’, are strongly in competition against each other.
Covetousness is subtle. Believers can easily be entrapped by it. For instance, consider this prayer of a believer who is engaged in an occupation, “Oh God, give me an idea that will result in an explosion of wealth that I may bring in more resources to your Kingdom”. Doesn’t this sound innocent? But the truth is that, in the strictest sense, there is an element of covetousness in it. As believers, we don’t define our pattern of success apart from God’s will. It is He who gives us power to get wealth (Deuteronomy 8v18). If God will expand our capacity, He does it by Himself-opening our eyes to opportunities. So the real test is, what is our real motive? So the Pastor who says, “Oh Lord give me more members for Kingdom sake” because He is seeing how other churches are flourishing, is simply covetous.
I must also say that true contentment doesn’t in any way breed complacency. God expects us to be diligent in what we do. This is resonated in Ecclesiastes 9v10. Our motive for hard work should never be borne of envy. If you are a worker, work as unto the LORD; shed every bitterness and complacency and work diligently, keeping your trust in God. If the LORD, in His providence, wants to take you elsewhere, He’ll make a way for you. Don’t let the anxiety that follows self-comparison take you out of God’s will for your life. You real worth is not in your earning capacity, it is in who Christ has made you to be in Him. Don’t be fooled by those motivational talks that fuel envy.
Our desires should entirely be directed towards God’s will. We must understand that, contrary to the world’s thinking, the life of a man does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Whatever the LORD in His providence has given us, let us therewith be content. If the LORD adds to our substance, it is still His providence. The truth is that, until we begin to see Christ as the greatest source of contentment, our soul will never find rest. We’d always keep craving and wanting and would never be satisfied. Christ should be our greatest source of satisfaction. Let’s learn to trust God for our sustenance; knowing that whatever He gives us is what we actually need. And that, as He has promised, He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13v5). Covetousness in the heart smothers thanksgiving.
So dear reader, let’s pay attention to Christ’s words:“take heed and beware of covetousness; for the life a man does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses”.