I read recently of a painting which portrays man’s desire for gold and its consequences. It pictures a narrow highway along which is rolling a golden coin. The road is crowded with men and women who are rushing madly for the coin. Their eyes and their faces express eagerness and intense desire. On a galloping horse rides a man whose eyes are fixed on the gold, with his body bent over the neck of his stead, as his mind is completely focused on the wealth ahead. Clinging to him are his wife and children, who with love, devotion, anxiety and fear written on their faces, are endeavoring to remain close to him. But he, in his spirit of covetousness, is unconsciously, unwittingly, and roughly pushing them from him, as he feels that they are a hindrance in his race for wealth. He is oblivious of the people in his path, and is urging his horse onward toward the prize, trampling all who are in his way. Sadly, he leaves behind him a host of broken, bleeding, and crushed men and women.
Statisticians have calculated that the Americans of 100 years ago had 72 “wants,” 16 of which were considered needs. Today, we have nearly 500 “wants,” of which less than 100 are really necessary. Abraham Lincoln’s two boys were arguing. A friend asked, “What’s the matter with those boys?” Lincoln replied, “Just what is the matter with the whole world. I have three walnuts and each boy wants two!”
In Luke 12:15, Christ warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Actually, this can be read, “Beware of all covetousness.” In his book, “God’s Cure For Worry,” author Mark Guy Pearse states, “Covetousness is the sin of which Jesus Christ spoke more earnestly, more solemnly, and more constantly than of any other.”
The Bible does not condemn riches, but it does sharply rebuke the trusting in them and the unlawful pursuit of materialism. The word “covet” comes from a Greek word which means “grasping for more.” No matter how much one gets, he is always discontented. Eventually, after covetousness drives him unmercifully through life, it kills him and leaves with him nothing. This is confirmed with just a few examples of covetousness in the Scriptures. Eve coveted the forbidden fruit, Lot was greedy for real estate, Balaam for rewards, Achan sought money, David another man’s wife, Ahab a vineyard, Gehazi gifts, the Pharisees pursued riches, Judas silver, and Demas coveted pleasures, and all suffered terribly.
Covetousness breeds many sins.
1. DEATH, according to Proverbs 1:18 and 19, Isaiah 56:11 and Jeremiah 22:17. A man in Boca Raton, Florida, tried to drown his aged mother in a bathtub and used a buzzing electric device to injure her because he wanted to collect his inheritance.
2. DENIAL (OF GOD). This is what Agur, the son of Jakeh, was concerned about in Proverbs 30:8 and 9. The story is told of a man who received instantly everything he wished for. He desired a palatial house, and it was there. He wished for the latest and most expensive car, and he had it. He longed for immeasurable riches, and it was granted. No matter what he wished for, it was immediately there. However, he grew more miserable and weary. He told a friend, “I’d rather be in hell than this.” His friend countered, “Where do you think you are?” Make money your god and it will plague you like the devil.
3. DECEIT. In Matthew 13:22, Christ made this clear when He spoke of “the deceitfulness of riches.” Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, French priest of the Middle Ages, has left on record that of the tens of thousands that confessed to him their sins, not one ever confessed the love of money. Yet, the prevalence of this sin in taught throughout the Bible. One of the major reasons Israel was chastised by God, was covetousness. Both Isaiah 57:17 and Jeremiah 6:13 and 8:10 confirm this.
4. DEFILEMENT. In Mark 7:20 – 23, Christ listed covetousness with adultery, fornication, murder, pride, blasphemy, wickedness, thefts, etc, then added, “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Paul even went so far as to put it in the same list with idolaters, homosexuals, sodomites, and drunkards, adding that those who practice such sins will not “inherit the kingdom of God. “ ( I Corinthians 6:9 and 10). I heard the late C. M. Ward say, “You can go to hell just as easy for being greedy as cussin’.”
5. DESTRUCTION. In 1 Timothy 6:9 – 11, Paul speaks of those “who desire to be rich, and “the love of money,” adding that those who fall into such a trap “ pierce themselves through with many sorrows.”
Without a doubt, God desires to bless and prosper His people. John wrote of this, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” ( 3 John 2). While confirming God’s will to prosper us, he also gives the priority. Christ promised, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” (Matthew 6:33).
Matthew 6:21 reveals, “For where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” A story tells of Satan’s attack on a Christian. First, he shot a poisonous dart at his heel, but the Christian was unharmed because he had his feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Satan’s next attempt was at his loins, but the Christian repelled this because he had his loins girt about with truth. Unsuccessfully the devil tried a shot at his breast, the breastplate of righteousness. The Christian knocked away the arrow. But the devil, not to be discouraged, slipped around behind the Christian, and shot him in his wallet, and killed him dead as a hammer! BEWARE OF COVETOUSNESS!
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, Amen.” ( 2 Corinthians 13:14 ).
Labels: Pastor Dave Arnold