The deception of covetousness.
A few months ago I met a dear brother after a long time. After the pleasantries, I asked him how he was doing. He began to tell me about how much money he was making when I interrupted him. I asked him to tell me about the condition of his soul. That was when he confessed that his spiritual life was in shambles. He had lost his way and needed help to get back on track with The Lord. If I hadn’t stopped him, he would have carefully concealed his dilapidated spiritual condition behind a facade of financial success. His life was more than possessions and money. His real life was suffering while he was busy accumulating material things. His problem was covetousness.
A woman buys shoes, clothes and jewellery at a frantic pace. She hardly wears what she buys but she feels pressured to buy more. She compromises her values, sells her body and soul and is ready to do absolutely anything to get more money and material things in her life. She is driven by covetousness.
A man keeps acquiring cars, houses and women. He is never satisfied with what he has and sits up at night thinking about how to acquire more. He is ready to do absolutely anything to acquire more of what he already has in abundance. He is driven by covetousness.
Covetousness is the desire to have more than you will ever need. It is accumulating material things at the expense of your soul. It is pilling up possessions to fill the emptiness in your soul instead of allowing the Lord fill you up Himself. Covetousness is surrounding yourself with material things to make yourself feel valuable, when in reality, you have no real value before The Lord.
In Luke 12:15, Jesus said that your life, your real life, has absolutely nothing to do with how much possessions you have. Your real life has to do with the state of your soul.
When God looks at us, He sees our soul before He sees anything else. It is the state of our soul that is primarily important to The Lord, all other things are secondary. Men may be impressed by how much you are worth financially. They may be impressed by how successful you are and how much real estate you possess, but God is impressed only by the state of your soul. Your job, business and work are important, because we should be good and faithful stewards of the talents, gifts, abilities and opportunities which The Lord has granted us. The Lord will hold each and every one of us accountable for what we do with those abilities He gave us. However, the kingdom comes first. Our spiritual relationship with The Lord is paramount above all else.
Jesus illustrated this point in Luke 12 with the story of a rich man whose farming business was very successful. He was diligent, he applied himself to his business and so he prospered. Jesus had no problem with his prosperity, but He had a problem with the emptiness in the man’s soul. While he was busy pursuing and accumulating material things, this man ignored the health of his own soul. He had no relationship with The Lord. He never laid up spiritual treasures by pursuing spiritual things and the Will of God for his life. God called that man a fool. Not because he was rich, but because he disparaged spiritual things and was not prepared for eternity. While building bigger barns for his growing business, he wasn’t paying attention to his own soul. God said ‘Tonight’, your soul will be required of you and you will take nothing with you. The only thing we came into the world with is our soul and that is the only thing we will leave with. Some believers are foolish like the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs who tried to carry their wealth across into the next world by burying it with them. Centuries later, the treasures are still buried in the ground. Dear brother and sister, when you die, you will not take anything with you. We came in naked. We leave naked.
But covetousness blinds us to this simple spiritual truth.
Covetousness seduces you from the path of the kingdom and leads you down a path of pain, loss and regret. It makes you a slave to money and material things. It makes you pursue career, work, business, money and possessions at the expense of your family, friends and your soul. It is a canker that eats into your soul and destroys everything of value in your life.
Some believers are deluded by covetousness to think that the material things they acquire makes any difference in their relationship with the Lord. They don’t. What you have or don’t have has nothing to do with the state of your soul. Some believers think that because they have lots of material things, the Lord is ‘pleased’ with them and is ‘blessing’ them. How foolish. Anybody who applies himself to his work will be successful in his endeavours. Having lots of money is not a sign of ‘spiritual blessings.’ It is not synonymous with spirituality. It is not a sign of heaven’s approval on your life. A buoyant bank account is not a reflection of a healthy spiritual state. Don’t be foolish. Columbian drug lords, crime bosses and corrupt politicians who have tons of money are not spiritual in any way.
A fool says, ‘look at how rich I am, the Lord is blessing me. My life is spiritually okay.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. Money and spirituality are not synonymous. The richest people on the planet are not the most spiritual. Don’t be deceived by money. Covetous pastors jeopardise the souls of the saints by ordaining as deacons and elders, men and women who are financially successful but spiritually bankrupt. They do this so that the rich can bring their money to the church, but they never consider the fact that these spiritually bankrupt men and women cause havoc in the church. This is a sin against the Body of Christ and they will be held accountable for it.
The cure for covetousness is contentment. ITimothy 6:6, says that godliness with contentment is great gain.
Contentment is living our lives within the boundaries of our calling, gifting and abilities. Contentment is living within the Lord’s provision for your life. It is running your own race, pursuing your own assignment, on your own set path without comparing yourself with anybody else. Contentment is living your life from within, instead of being manipulated and controlled by money and material things without. Contentment restrains you from the insane urge to accumulate and hoard things you don’t need in your life. Contentment leads you on a path of peace.
Ask the Lord to break the hold of greed and covetousness over your life. Receive the spirit of contentment in your soul. May you place value on things that are important to the kingdom and to The Lord. May you value and pursue things that are in the centre of God’s Will for your life.