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In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus responds to an inquiry about receiving an inheritance with a warning against covetousness and a parable about a rich man who lived only for himself and then died, as poor as poor can be - that is, without God!
Jesus’ warning preceding the parable and His concluding remarks about the parable should awaken our hearts to the hidden, spiritually-cloaked, cunning covetousness that envelopes us all at one time or another. “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (v15). “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God” (v21).We must strive and fight by grace through faith to sever the lie of covetousness before it takes deep root in our souls and keep believing that living for eternal joys are far more satisfying!
Here are a few lists I made to help me search my own heart. Each list could be longer. The purpose is to encourage me to begin to think biblically about money and possessions and eternity. I hope these lists are a help to you as well.
5 Indicators that we may not be about being rich toward God.
Where have we already spent the money we have yet to make? (raise, inheritance, gambling, debt paid off) Do we automatically, without thinking, always put it toward self?
Do we only give to God from the leftover? After we have spent all we can spend and have everything we want, if there happens to be a little something left over, is that what we call our giving to God?
Why are we bothered to hear a sermon on money and giving?
Is knowing that we have that nest egg sitting securely in our name or are working towards it, what allows us to lay our heads down at night and rest?
Do we as parents or grandparents really believe that our calling is to make sure our children have it better than we did? And by that, we mean, that they have more material stuff and larger bank accounts.
5 Indicators that we may be prey to covetousness.
Is “I’m going to use this for ministry” really just an excuse we use to justify our self-centered, comfort-seeking desire for things?
As our income expands, do our needs expand in equal or larger proportion? such that we really never get around to giving in big proportion to God?
What is it that consumes our thoughts? If we could do anything right now, what would it be? What is our dream? Does God fall into any of those categories?
If tomorrow, we lost everything in terms of money and possessions and insurance couldn’t cover it, where would we fall? stand?
Are we in debt for things beyond basic essentials? You have to have a house. For most of us, we have to have a vehicle. Most people can’t pay cash for a car or for a home. That doesn’t mean we have to have the finest home. It doesn’t necessarily mean we need another car. It’s different for everyone. Families are different. Needs are different. But if we are in sinking in debt for luxuries and pleasures and toys and extras - we are falling prey to covetousness.
5 Checkpoints to keep our hearts in check.
Let us remember, it doesn’t matter if we can convince our spouse, our friends, or our pastor of how we handle God’s blessings; it matters how we think to speak of these things with God.
In navigating spending and giving, keep this in our minds, the two greatest commandments are love the Lord with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
Simplify life. Live within our means. Don’t bank on the future. Don’t acquire unnecessary debt.
Plan your giving around your income (budget it in!) and pray each year if God would have you give more and live on less.
And most important - trust and believe God that there is more reward in giving than in keeping. Being rich toward God and eternal joys are truly better!