Summary: The Health, Weatlh & Prosperity gospel has made a come back. Should we expect God to bless us financially? Is it a sign of His favor if we become rich or His displeasure if we are not?
Luke 12:15 "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist of the abundance of his possessions."
"Abundance" means to be in excess
"Covetousness" means "to hold more"
"Take heed" (take care): to stare at
"Beware" (be on your guard): to watch, be on guard, avoid
A man had a lot of money. He told his wife "when I die I want you to put all the money in my casket because I want to take it with me to the after life." When her husband died, she did just that. She took his money, went down to the bank and created an account for herself with the money. Her friends wondered how she fulfilled her husband’s dieing wish. "Simple," she said. "I wrote him a check and put it in the casket. If he can cash it, he can get the money."
This runs counter to almost everything our culture teaches. Our culture teaches us that "he who dies with the most toys wins." In reality "he who has the most toys dies" is more like it.
1 Timothy 6:6-8 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. ESV
That doesn’t seem to stop us from loving things. But have you ever notice that things don’t return the affection? It’s the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics - things go from order to disorder and we have to put in increasing amounts of energy to keep that law from destroying all our stuff.
It’s not the condition of stuff you have that matters but the condition of your heart. You can be a generous person and not have a penny to your name. You can also be broke and be ruled by stuff. Likewise you can be as rich as Bill Gates and be super generous or pinch pennies as if you had no money at all.
It’s not just about money either - you can be covetous with your time and your talents too.
The Dangers of Covetousness
1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. ESV
Loving possessions will possess you, and lead you around like a dog on a leash.
The key to understanding whether or not a thing possesses you is imagine that it is gone in a fire or explosion. Will you be able to go on without it?
Money or possessions have caused so many to do so much evil and has wasted the lives of so many people, turning their focus away from God.
At its root, covetousness is idolatry-serving the self above serving God. It doesn’t mean we take a vow of poverty and run around in sackcloth begging for food.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. ESV
That’s a clue for later. So it’s good to work, earn money, buy clothes, food, and shelter. Having things is not bad, its when things have you that it becomes a problem. So use things and love people, not the other way around: use people and love things.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD." ESV