The Empty Hope of Greed
It is important to remember at the conclusion of our little series that God is the owner of everything. That means you really own…nothing. He gives us “all things richly to enjoy.” When we take an offering to “give” something to God, we are only giving to God what He already owns.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having nice things and enjoying them. The Bible does not condemn wealth or wealthy people. But it does condemn the love of it. “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” When we pursue wealth as an end in itself, it becomes the wellspring of all kinds of evil.
- We cannot separate our attitude toward money and material possessions from the true condition of our spirituality. Your money and your use of it is a test.
- You cannot relate to Jesus authentically without dealing with this issue. Jesus dealt with money (materialism, mammon) more than He talked about faith, or prayer or heaven. Over 2,350 verses to be exact. Most of the parables of Jesus are related to money. You cannot hide and shelter your money as though it has no consequence to your eternal health and well-being.
Covetousness is probably one of the most downplayed yet most prevalent sins we are guilty of today. All of us. We have all tasted greed.
The Tenth commandment in Exodus 20:17 warns us, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s possessions.” His wife, his home, his servants, his animals. Don’t look over the fence and long for what your neighbor has.
Paul pointed out that the law convicted him he was covetous:
“For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.” Romans 7:7-8 ESV
He lusted for things that he should not. And in Colossians he makes a startling connection:
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Colossians 3:5 ESV
What is covetousness? Idolatry. You are looking to something or someONE created for your ultimate satisfaction, your ultimate good, your identity, your value… instead of to the God Who created these things. As Tim Keller wrote, “The human heart is an idol factory.”
Are you an “accidental idolator?” Do you convince yourself that, in fact, your life DOES consist of the things you possess? If you possessed MORE, you would be happier… more contented… more fulfilled?
Are you trying to prove Jesus was wrong? Is the focus of your life on getting more, having more? Do you realize this is all driven by fear?
The early Israelites bowed before the idol of a golden calf because they were afraid: The idol gave them a sense of security in something they could see. Covetousness is a default sin that we resort to when we’re afraid.
When we are very young, we covet because we are afraid we are going to miss out on something fun…something good. Her bicycle is more fun.
When we are hitting adulthood and middle age, we covet because we are afraid we are going to be thought of as unsuccessful… as a failure in life… as less than we could be. So, we covet power, and prestige, and wealth. Our fear is we are not measuring up.
When we get older, we covet because we are afraid, we are not going to have security to last our retirement years, or afraid we will not be able to retire at all!
Covetousness is idolatry, and it demands we possess more, own more, make more money…it becomes our ultimate search for significance and meaning in life. And at its root is fear.
But the Bible says you are serving an idol… a false god… a golden calf… that can never keep its promise to you.
When you see it for what it truly is, you will stare into the abyss of an empty hope.