15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

Luke 12:15 (NIV)

Believer, guard against greed! Jesus gives us two stern warnings – perceive distinctly, keep our eyes fixed on and look attentively to areas in our lives that perhaps have crossed the line to greed. We are to be in a state of vigilance or watchfulness in regard to this issue. Paul tells us in Ephesians:

1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Eph 5:1-3 (NIV)

Self-centered vices are the direct opposite of the self-sacrificing love that we are called to in Christ. These vices flesh out in all sorts of self-indulgence and selfishness which, I might add, the life of the believer should not even hint towards. We are to put to death the behavior of this world and follow the example of our Lord. I am reminded of a passage, also in Ephesians, steering us away from this type of lifestyle:

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. Eph 4:17-19 (NIV)

This basically describes those who have abandoned themselves (“given themselves over”) to indulge in self-gratification without regard for others – continually lusting for more. A terrible waste of a life indeed! The lust for more continues on because these things never satisfy – they never really scratch the itch. Would you like to know how wealthy you are? Just try looking around your home for the things that money cannot buy. These are our true riches and treasures. God’s Word, family, friends, the beauty of nature that surrounds us, laughter, tears, singing, dancing, sharing, praying, hugs, kisses and the list goes on and on all without cost and all priceless. Remember the only two things on this earth that are eternal are the Word of God and the souls of men. We would do well to remember that. Jesus gives us this warning in the Sermon on the Mount:

19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:19-21 (NIV)

If our treasures and our hearts are tied with the things of this world, we will be tight fisted and greedy. Not willing to share because it is simply too costly for us. If we grasp how fleeting worldly wealth is we would resemble the shrewd manager who used this worldly wealth for his gain so that he would be “welcomed into eternal dwellings”:

9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. Luke 16:9 (NIV)

Giving is true having. Charles Spurgeon

Jesus goes on to make an even stronger point:

11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own? Luke 16:11-12 (NIV)

All that we are and all that we have are His. We are to be wise stewards for what God has entrusted to us for what He has allowed in our lives. We are held accountable for these things. In our short-sightedness live for today mentality, like the prodigal, we “squander our wealth in wild living” trading eternal blessings for a mere moment of pleasure. Remember Eve with the fruit (Genesis 3:6); Esau with his bowl of stew (Genesis 25:29-34); and Samson with Delilah (Judges Chapter 16)? All selling out for the present – for the instant gratification, a cheap paste gem compared to the riches in Christ. Lest we scoff and think this is only for those who have not, let’s consider the words of the richest man who ever lived:

10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. 11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Eccl 2:10-11 (NIV)

God gives us things to enjoy but not to live for – we must recognize the difference or we will fall every time! Beware of whatever we grasp greedily! Our attitude towards what God has allowed in our lives should resemble blameless Job’s when basically everything was taken away from his hands:

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:20-21 (NIV)

What I Glean

  • I am to be watchful for greed in my life and nip it!
  • My treasures are to be stored in heaven.
  • I am not to live for my possessions.