“And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Jesus isn’t shy about materialism. He talks about the dangers of covetousness and the love of money quite often. I guess he knew we’d need the reminders!
Here Jesus is talking to a man who wants his brother to split his inheritance with him. The man asks Jesus to convince the brother to do so. Presumably the man speaking to Jesus is the younger brother, who will receive significantly less of the inheritance from his father than his older brother will. He goes to Jesus, by this time a well-known teacher, to try to get him to convince his brother to share. He thinks it’s a righteous cause, but Jesus wants nothing to do with it. Instead, Jesus basically tells him that he has no place in that decision. But he doesn’t stop there. He knows the man’s heart and why he is asking. He doesn’t care for the justice of the situation, he cares about obtaining wealth. So Jesus warns him saying “be on guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
It is a warning that ought to be taken more seriously today. In our capitalistic western culture, our greatest measure of success is usually the abundance of our possessions. If we do well, follow the rules, work hard, and treat people right, we’ll be rich. If you don’t get rich, you didn’t work hard enough, follow the rules well enough, act nice enough, or any other number of things. Success = riches. More and more, happiness is also defined as wealth. The common phrase “money can’t buy me happiness but it can buy (insert item here) and that’s pretty close,” sums it up pretty well. Society revolves around wealth, and our culture has bought into the lie.
Remember Jesus’ words. No matter how much money you make, no matter how many nice things you have, no matter how new your car is, how big your house is, how thick your wallet is, it will never fulfill your life. Only Jesus can do that. Only knowing and loving the one true God can do that. Don’t be fooled, money isn’t the key to life. Christ is.
Help me not to fall into the temptation of covetousness. Help me not to desire more wealth or possessions, but to desire you. Give me fulfillment and joy through my life in the Holy Spirit, and never let me forget.
In Jesus’ Name,