Covetousness is “marked by inordinate desire for wealth or possessions or another’s possessions” (Merriam-Webster). Covetousness usually gets excused as an “acceptable sin” by many people because it is not a visible sin but is a sin of the heart. Covetousness is a very subtle sin of the heart that every person is prone to commit. Covetousness is the sin that motivated Lucifer to rebel against God as he desired to be supreme. Covetousness is the sin that motivated Adam and Eve to rebel against God’s created order as they were not content with what God had provided. Covetousness has been the underlying motivation of many wars, strife, divisions, and hatred. The never-ending itch for more things and more power has caused a vast amount of unhappiness and misery in the world.
In Luke 12, a man said to Jesus, “Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus was able to see into this man’s heart and realize that his request was motivated by greed. Jesus said, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you.” This man’s problem was not his brother’s greed, but his own greed. The Lord refused to take a role in judging this family problem as he knew that this man’s greatest problem was not material in nature but was spiritual. Jesus warned him, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in abundance of things which he possesseth.” Jesus reminded this man that life is more than material things.
To illustrate his point, Jesus gave a parable about a rich man that had many possessions. One day he realized that he had run out of room to store his abundance of crops and decided to pull down his barns and build bigger barns. This man, then, proceeded to find his sense of security in his possessions and decided that he would take his ease and eat, drink, and be merry. This man had a completely secular view of his goods. He never once thanked God or asked God how he should use his riches. He decided to kick up his feet and spend the rest of his days in luxury without giving a thought to the afterlife. That night, God came to him and said, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
This man’s problem wasn’t his possessions, rather, it was his attitude toward his possessions. This man had lived his life storing up material goods without thanking God, acknowledging God, or preparing to meet God.
We all have two choices in this life: God or Greed. Jesus said “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Those who store up treasure on earth will be numbered among “fools” in eternity. Only those who are rich toward God have found the path of wisdom!