Monday, January 21, 2013

What is covetousness? Why is coveting a sin?


Covetousness is defined as - “an extreme desire to acquire or possess”. 

Jesus dealt with the sin of covetousness with a parable in Luke 12:13-21.
Someone in 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 arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21 ESV)
Summary of the Parable:
  • Jesus was asked by a man to command his brother to divide his inheritance with him (vs.13).
  • The man’s brother was probably the firstborn; so, according to the law he had a right to a majority of the inheritance.
  • The man talking to Jesus expected a ruling on this matter.
  • The man thought Jesus, “Rabbi/Teacher”, would have enough authority or knowledge to help settle the matter.
  • Jesus did not want to interfere with this (trivial?) problem that he was not involved it.
  • Jesus did use this as an opportunity to teach a lesson against covetousness and greed. There are many great lessons one can learn about covetousness from this parable.
Description of the Rich Fool
  • He was a successful farmer (vs.16).
  • He had grown rich from his labors (vs.16). “The land of a rich man was very productive”
  • His crops were so productive that he had a dilemma that most farmers would enjoy having. 
  • “He began reasoning to himself saying, ‘What shall I do since I have no place to store my crops” (vs.17)
The Rich Fool’s Plan
  • “And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” (18-19)
  • Note: He conferred only with himself.
    • He was selfish in his decision (“I” used 6 times).
    • He was only concerned with his own wants and not the needs of others.
  • What does God call him?... “you fool”!
Problems With the Rich Fool’s Plan
  • He left God out of his plans (James 4:13-15).
  • He thought possessions provided a guarantee to his life. (He was wrong).
  • He thought his soul could be satisfied with material gain.
  • His decision did not take into account the future.
  • He thought his life consisted in the things he possessed.
  • He forgot others.
  • He forgot about death.
God’s Answer to the Fool
  • But God said to him, “You Fool! This very night your soul is required of you: and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is he who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. (vs. 20-21).
  • God’s answer reveals the main problem.
  • The rich man spent his life in a quest for more and he had to leave it all behind.
  • He missed the blessing of giving to others.
  • He died! A rich fool.
Lessons Learned about Covetousness
  • What Covetousness is Not:
    • Not a desire for property.
    • Not merely the possession of money.
    • Not hard work, planning, or investing.
  • What Covetousness is:
    • Greed to always have more.
    • It is making earthly wealth our chief aim in life.
    • It rates success in life according to wealth and possessions.
  • The Sin of Covetousness:
    • Covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5-6)
    • We must not let money become our master.
    • It can cause people to be lost. 
    • Just like it did the Rich Fool.
Conclusion
  • Life doesn’t consist of what we possess.
  • Life is not about stuff. It is about serving God and serving others (Matt. 22:37-40).
  • We need to be concerned about the real riches in life. The riches of the soul!
  • (Mat 6:21) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
By Cliff Sabroe - Quotes from ESV Bible