Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How Much Do You Need? The Danger of Coveting, Part 60 of 60

TEXT: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exodus 20:17).

“Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15).

IDEA: There are great benefits in a life that is free of covetousness.

PURPOSE: To help listeners see what possible benefits they might enjoy if they were to free themselves from covetousness.

A successful pediatrician had acquired everything that should make people happy, and he was miserable. He went to Barbados, and there he met people who had nothing, yet were happy. They got him thinking about people who were free of covetousness.

What if you, as a Christian, took seriously what the Bible says about covetousness. Why might we be happier if we didn’t fall prey to the idea that we need a lot of stuff to be happy?

I. A life that is free from covetousness has some attractive benefits.

In a materialistic culture, we find that hard to believe because we equate the good life with acquiring possessions.

This is no apologetic for poverty, but there is a lot of truth in the song from Porgy and Bess:

I’ve got plenty of nuthin’ and nuthin’s plenty for me!
Got no car, got no home, got no misery–
No use complainin’
The folks with plenty of plenty got a lock on the door,
Afraid somebody’s gonna rob ’em while they out amakin’ more!
What for!?

I got no lock on the door, that’s no way to be
They can steal the rug from the floor,
That’s okay wid me;
Cause the things that I prize - like the stars in the skies - are all free.
I got plenty of nuthin’ and nuthin’s plenty for me.

The Bible does not warn us about covetousness to spoil our fun, but to preserve our deepest joys.

II. What are some of the advantages that can come when you’re free from covetousness? (That’s not saying “free from all possessions.”)

It frees us from anxiety (credit cards, waking up at night, etc.).

It enables us to change our perspective about what is important, eg., the rich fool in Luke 12.

If you stood at a graveside and looked back on your life, would you be satisfied with the way you lived it and what you lived it for?

It changes the way we relate to people: we can rejoice with those who rejoice. We’re not eaten up with envy or jealousy.

A life free from the love of money might give us time to enjoy other relationships–with children, spouse, friends.