by Fred C. Rochester
Covetousness; Greed Is Good? Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.
If you have many maxed out unsecured or secured credit cards, home equity loans, a mortgage on a house that is beyond your means to pay, car notes, personal loans, and other forms of debt, it is a clear indication that you are, or you were covetous.
In Luke 12, two brothers were fighting over their inheritance. The matter was brought before the Lord Jesus. The Lord Jesus told him, “Who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” It seems to me that there was more to it than meets the eye.
First take note that the brother was standing in a crowd of people. He aired his sibling’s dirty laundry before the people. All in an effort to get the Lord Jesus to rule in his favor.
We do not know if his brother was present, but it appears that some people in the crowd knew these guys and word was to certainly get back. However, we see that it wasn’t for the Lord to rule because no one in the legal system made Him an arbitrator.
Then the Lord gets to the root of the issue.
“Take heed and beware of covetousness,” The Amplified Bible is quoted as saying,
“Guard yourselves and keep free from all covetousness (immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more).
Immoderate is defined as “beyond reasonable limits.”
HOARDING; EXTREME COVETOUSNESS
There is a powerful series called “Hoarding.” It talks about people’s compulsive desire to accumulate things. Rat packing is a serious issue because when you have the ability to buy an item and then store it, you are creating a mess that becomes extremely difficult to deal with.
The sad part is that they grow emotionally attached to the various items in the house and will become very combative. The reasons for this kind of behavior varies from person to person but there is a consistent pattern common to most people that hoard.
1. An serious emotional event occurred in their lives that compelled them to shut down common sense and normal reasoning.
2. Accumulation was permitted to reach a stage where undoing what was done became unbearable. Not just for the person that is hoarding but for the family members that attempt to correct years of compulsive accumulation.
3. Emotional detachment ( a complete clean up) would mean death to them. In other words, each item gave them a warped reason to coexist and if a separation took place, they would freak out.
While I am addressing a total different subject, you do not have to be a hoarder to be covetous. Hoarding is just an extreme case of covetousness associated with traumatic events that immobilizes a person. The majority of their accumulated items become their memento to happy times before a tragedy or emotional trauma. It becomes for them their security or comfort. It is an extreme compulsion that has the potential to eventually kill a person.
One such case took place a few years ago. The man had so much stuff inside the house that it concealed his death for quite sometime. It was only until the mailman couldn’t put any more mail in his box that they decided to call the authorities.
When they tried to enter the front door, they could not go any further. It wasn’t the smell of his corpse that repelled the authorities. It was the accumulation of stuff that prevented access to the body. There was so much stuff in the house, they had to take it out, piece by piece before they could remove his corpse.
The parable of the sower is a classic example of where the hearts of people are. The most common place where people abide is among thorns. The seed, which is the word of God, is thrown among thorns where the Word is being choked with “cares, riches, and pleasures of this life.”
This is the place of covetousness.
STAYING FREE OF COVETOUSNESS
If God’s people want to stay free of covetousness, they must get to the place where the good ground is, where the seed will produce fruit. Those that are on good ground will always be content with what they have in life because of Psalm 23:1.
In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul gave us these powerful words.
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Paul didn’t permit his need to drive him to do things that would violate his relationship with the Lord and God’s people. He had a common sense approach to life. He went to work.
In 1 Timothy 6:6-10, Paul tells us,
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
When the love of money became the only pursuit in the life of a believer, there is only one result. You will stray from the faith in greediness. Once again, it is a depiction of a believer that is among thorns where the word is choked because of “cares, riches, and pleasures of this life.”
Hebrews 13:5 tells us, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you not forsake you.”
When everything runs out, the one thing that you will always count on is that God will never leave you nor forsake you. He will make a way so you won’t have to. It takes faith to trust God to get through in this life.
In none of these Scriptures do we see the Lord advocating that we do without, remain poor, or suffer lack. However, we do see that regardless of the conditions of our lives, we are to be content.
You will recall in 1 Kings 16, when Elijah walked up to Ahab and told him that there would be no rain for 3 and a half years (see James 5:17-18).
The Lord sent Elijah to Zarephath and commanded a widow woman to provide for Elijah.
When a nation refuses to repent of sin, dire conditions are released to nudge the leaders and the nation to the place of prayer to repent for the sins committed in the church and the nation.
If you carefully read the stories in the OT, you will see that the origin of these conditions began in Deuteronomy 28:1.
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:”
The downside of conditions always have one conclusion.
Deuteronomy 28:15 says,
“But is shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:”
While this Scripture appertains to the children of Israel based on the law, we must remember that the principle of obedience and righteousness to God is applied to every nation on the planet. While “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law” (see Galatians 3:13),” it is not a blank check to “…continue in sin that grace may abound” (see Romans 6:1).
Jesus did not die for our sins so that we can continue to sin.
RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTS A NATION
Proverbs 14:34 says,
“Righteousness exalts a nation. but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Please note that it didn’t say, “Righteousness exalts only the nation of Israel.” The New Living Translations says,
“Godliness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
It is interesting to note what 1 Peter 2:9-12 says,
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
Notice that Peter called the church, “a holy nation.”
So when the church is holy, it is a godly nation. God, therefore, exalts that holy nation, within a nation. The rest of Proverbs 14:34 is appropriate for the sinful nation, including the church. When we are in sin, we are a disgraceful nation. If exaltation uplifts a nation, disgrace is the downfall of a nation.
ONE STATE AT A TIME
If you have noticed, the governor of Texas called for the State to enter into a time of prayer with fasting. He’s been getting heat but it seems to me that it will go forward regardless of the may lawsuits and fuss.
In Oklahoma, the governor is setting out time to pray for rain. Let me tell you. I think somebody is getting the message. But it’s not coming from our prominent pastors and leaders. It’s coming from the politicians. Do not get me wrong. If the pastors are influencing the politicians, telling them that they need to pray, then we do not need to know their names.
What we need to be more concerned about is getting each state to come back to God. Who cares about who did the influencing so long as we are found on our faces before God. But I also find that some parts of the church isn’t getting the message. We haven’t put two and two together.
Immorality is still the business of most pastoral leaders and congregants.
How do I know?
When you see a lot of people leave their churches because you preach against sin, same sex unions, adultery, fornication, pornography, masturbation, bisexuality, pederasty, and other sexual sins, it is clear that they want to send you a message that they intend not to give up sins of the flesh.
If they leave because a pastor is found to be in sin, sadly, that departures will happen. That’s because the people expect their spiritual leaders to be held to a higher standard and be held accountable. The wrong message to send is for the leader to salvage his ministry.
What he is really doing is salvaging his empire at the expense of the kingdom of God. The godly thing to do is surrender the ministry, salvage his relationship with God, his family, and then to the congregation.
When you see that the prominent preachers are still peddling the prosperity message and the gospel of inclusion, we haven’t gotten the message. When you see elements of the world’s brand of “gospel music” in the church. When you see a rise in sexual immorality because of it, then you know the church is in trouble, let alone the world.
I mentioned the story about Elijah and the widow woman for a reason. The economic conditions in this nation is a direct result of covetousness, same sex unions, and abortion. These sins are evident in the church and in the world. We do not know how to be content with what we have and we desire more.
We desire intimacy with ourselves, same sex, and opposite sex, illicitly. When we conceived a child out of wedlock and then abort that child because we can’t afford the child or the conception was a mistake, these are gross sins that defile a nation.
With unemployment at 9.2 percent. With interest rates on credit cards and loans at an all time high. With a decreasing taking home paycheck. With the high cost of living to purchase the basic necessities; gas, light, phone, food, and clothing.
WHAT MUST WE DO TO REVERSE THIS?
Repentance, confess our sins, forsake our sins, live righteously before God. Sanctify the Lord in our heart. Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Weep between the porch and the altar. Set a time for prayer and fasting, with weeping and mourning.
God will honor the pastor that falls on the sword. That’s right. Crucify himself. God will honor the church that seeks His face. God will turn churches around and then turn a nation around. We must be serious about killing covetousness, sexual immorality, and same sex unions in the church, first.
When we judge ourselves, we will not be judged. Hence, we won’t be condemned with the world. If you want to see an outpouring of the presence of God, all you have to do is bring to Him what He requires. A contrite and broken heart. A heart that is sorry about sinning against God. Then, and only then will our sacrifices be acceptable in His sight.