Commands of Christ

Beware of Covetousness

Where is this command found?

“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

Luke 12:15

Applying This Command

Any believer who covets will destroy his or her own soul and damage the entire Body of Christ. To covet is to violate God’s very nature, which is to love and give rather than to covet and get. A covetous person is like a cancer in the Body of Christ and will not only “pierce himself through with many sorrows” and become “an enemy of God,” but will also infect the lives of other believers.

Each of us will be tempted to covet, because it is a part of human nature. Therefore, we must realize the danger of covetousness and make right choices throughout our life. In this way,we will experience God’s rewards and lengthen our days — as promised by God. “He that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days” (Proverbs 28:16).

To covet is to believe that life consists of the things that we possess. It is this very point that Jesus refuted when He gave the command to beware of covetousness.

Bible Verses for Meditation

In addition to meditation on Luke 12:15, meditating on the verses below will provide you with further insight and understanding of Christ’s command: Beware of Covetousness.

Hebrews 13:5

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

I Timothy 6:6–8

“But 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 raiment let us be therewith content.”

Philippians 4:11–12

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

Exodus 20:17

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.”

Psalm 119:36–37

“Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.”

Proverbs 28:16

“The prince that wanteth understanding is also a great oppressor: but he that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.”

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Study Question

Q: If riches, honor, and life come by humility and the fear of the Lord, why did the Apostle Paul consider it a privilege to suffer the loss of all things for the sake of Christ? (See Proverbs 22:4, Philippians 3:8.)

A: Many people today believe the faulty premise that they deserve to have and enjoy as many “good things” in life as possible. Thus, they spend their lives trying to accumulate money, possessions, and fame.

When Jesus gave the command to beware of covetousness, He told a parable that demonstrated the futility of laying up treasure on earth without being rich toward God. When a certain rich man acquired so many possessions that he could no longer store all of them, he said, “I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:18–19). However, God had other plans for this man and said to him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” (Luke 12:21).

The attitude of the rich man in Jesus’ parable is opposite to that of the Apostle Paul, who gladly gave up his earthly possessions in order to gain a greater relationship with the Lord. In Philippians 3:8 Paul stated, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.”

When members of the early church were persecuted and had their earthly possessions taken from them, they were able to respond joyfully because of the greater rewards they knew that they would ultimately receive from God. (See Hebrews 10:34.)

For Christians today, the issue is not how much or how little we have, but rather our faithfulness as stewards of what God has entrusted to us. When God does give us riches, honor, and life, we have the privilege of investing them in God’s kingdom. Therefore, whether we have plenty or are experiencing needs, we can rejoice and be content when our focus is on laying up treasure in heaven.

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