Beware of Covetousness!!!
Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?” And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”…….. Luke 12:13-15
In our previous study, we considered the story of a particular woman who was magnifying Mary as a blessed woman because she was the Mother of Jesus and the correction the Lord gave to her that those who are truly blessed are those Who hear and obey God’s word. Today we shall consider a very interesting and surprisingly event of a Man who came to the Lord for a righteous demand of His Lawful family portion and the answer that Jesus gave calling it, “Covetousness”. Let us therefore hear from the mouth of Jesus what covetousness really means.
Then one from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher,tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”: Here was a man who was listening to a spiritual message that Jesus was preaching concerning God’s care and the necessity of boldly confessing Christ in public. But this man’s mind was taken up with His family inheritance. People normally came to Jesus with different purposes and I don’t think this man should be blame because any man who came to Jesus, with any need had his need met, no matter what the need was. When the blind man came to Jesus, He said, “What do you want me to do for you?” The man said, “I want to see,” and Jesus gave him sight(Mark10:51). When the ten lepers met Jesus and pleaded for mercy, they received their healing(Luke 17:13-14). When the woman with the issue of blood came into the congregation and decided that if she could touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, all her twelve years issue of blood would finish, she came and touched the hem of His garment and was healed(Luke 8:44).
But this particular man’s problem was not leprosy, he was not sick. The problem which he had was legitimate to bring to Jesus. After all, Jesus says, “ask anything that you will and I will do it.” So I do not think that his request was wrong. His late father left a lot of inheritance for them. He must have written a will but this man’s elder brother refused to release what belong to him. Years must have passed but the situation remained the same. Others could have gone to witch doctors to look for something to injure the elder brother and get the inheritance; but this man did not do that. He went to Jesus. This man said, “I have Jesus, I will take my problem to Him. I will meet Jesus over the matter.” Luckily for him Jesus was coming to town. He got himself ready and said, “Let me meet Jesus over this matter. I will tell Him, because the hearts of Kings are in the hands of the Lord. There is nobody God cannot control. God will speak to my elder brother.”
This is what this man decided to do. He came and said, “Master, speak to my brother. I know you are the One who speaks to a man and he obeys.” God could go and wake a man in the night and say, “What are you doing sitting on the inheritance that belongs to your brother?” And he will wake up and do something about it.
When you take a case to court and the judges are bribed, you may not get justice. This man took the matter to Jesus, and that was where I was confused and it set me searching the scriptures because, I expected Jesus to always defend the defenseless. He will always fight for the lonely man. He will always stand up and fight for the underprivileged. So, I expected Jesus to have said, “Okay, I will speak to your brother.” But to my surprise, the Lord Jesus Christ raised a very serious question which rather hit my heart with a serious note of warning and left me wondering why Jesus handled this man’s matter this way.
But He said to him, “Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?”: It was as if Jesus was saying: “Who told you that what I came to give you, the treasure I came to administer to you was this kind of thing? Who made me judge and a divider over you?” I so much wished that Jesus had kept quiet on that, I would have said, maybe the man made his request at a wrong time because He interrupted Jesus in the middle of a powerful sermon. I would have relaxed and prayed to God, to teach me how to make my request at the right time, at the right place and in the right manner. Jesus did not come here to be a judge in the distribution of family property. He did not do it then, even today He will not do it. He is not concern about what one Brother should get and what another brother should get. When people come to you and say, “Please pray for me that I may get my proper share of the family property”. We need to point them to this verse. Is Jesus going to do today what He did not do then? He is the same Yesterday, today and forever(Hebrews 13:8). He has not come to help us win court cases concerning Earthly Matter. But the Lord went forward and said more than what the man asked. Those are the issues burning my heart, which, you may also need to think about.
And He said to THEM, “Take heed and beware of covetousness: Jesus’ answer to this man’s simple request did not appear to me as if He was merely advising him. He did not speak in a manner that would make us think He was just making a comment. He said “Take heed.!!! ” What is the meaning of “TAKE HEED”? It means “be careful.” Unless there is a danger, you don’t use the word, take heed. If someone is reversing his car and is about to run into another vehicle, people will shout “take care!” Then he will march on the brake. So I wonder what is dangerous in this man’s request that Jesus met him with a very sharp warning: “Take heed!” What is dangerous in someone collecting his father’s inheritance that made Jesus Christ to meet this man with a very serious warning? The question then is, could a simple, innocent looking request, coming from my heart as a need, be but a thing to treat with a sharp warning such as “TAKE HEED?!” Oh, how we need light in our heart to see and a discerning Spirit to know how easily deceivable a man’s heart is. No wonder why the scripture has it that:”The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”(Jeremiah 17:9) Take heed, and beware of covetousness!!!
What is covetousness in the thing that the man asked? My own traditional understanding of covetousness is, desiring what does not belong to you. This man was not asking for what does not belong to him. He was asking for his legitimate right. It was an inheritance. Inheritance is your right. It belongs to you. Nobody should cheat you out of it. An inheritance is something that belongs to someone, by right; nobody should cheat him or her out of it. This is my own understanding. However, when I realized that my understanding clashes and conflicts with that of my master, it made me to seek to understand what His definition of covetousness is. God’s thought are not our thoughts. His standard are so much higher than our standard as Heaven is above the Earth(Isaiah 55:8-9). By an earthly standard, we can say there is nothing wrong with the request but from an Heavenly stand point, Jesus says it is covetousness. It is an indication of a lack of Faith in God. What will a spiritually minded person do in such a situation? He would trust God that if God wanted Him to have some of that property, it would come to Him without fighting ,and without being anxious about it. This is how a Righteous person is to live in the New testament. Romans 1:17 says, ” The Righteous shall live by faith.” There is a lot of difference between living by standard of righteousness and Living by Faith. Faith is higher than standard of Righteousness. This is one good example of it. Under the Old Covenant, you live by principles of Righteousness and you could go to your brother and say, “The Righteous thing to do is give me the inheritance that belongs to Me” but In the New Covenant, we must have faith that, “Whatever God wants me to have will get to me without Fighting for it” Abraham who is called the Father of Faith showed us a perfect example when Lot’s herdsmen and His herdsmen were fighting for Land. Abraham gave up His right and allowed God to give Him the Land(Genesis 13:6-17). This is Faith!!! Let us therefore come up higher to the Standard of Faith!!!
Moreover, only one man made the request but Jesus’ response addressed all, “And He said to THEM, Take heed…” The matter is therefore beyond the exclusive problem of one man. It spans beyond one generation. In fact, it relate not only to issues of this nature but such like. Anybody, at any time and in whatever generation that choose to neglect and take this warning for granted will no doubt fall into this pit even before he knows it.
For one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”.: Naturally, our own understanding is that there are certain things that make a good life. There are certain things that make one to say a man is comfortable. If any one comes now and congratulates you and says, “Thank God you have made it”, what are the parameters? Normally, he must have looked at your house, your car, your children and your job opportunity. He must have looked at your name, your position, your connection. When he put all these constituents together, he arrives at the conclusion that you are not a drop out. By what parameters therefore have men or even you drawn the current conclusion you presently hold about yourself?
If people are going to give honor to any man, they do so base on these constituents. So every man was born, initiated or taught according to the world principles to gather material things: clothes, money, houses, degrees, and all kinds of award. When you put these together it is what makes a man great in the world’s perspective. Yet, Jesus said, Beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consist not in the abundance of things which he possesses.
So what is covetousness? According to Jesus, covetousness is not just the desire to have what does not belong to you. But a desire to have and to hold what belongs to you, but which you do not need today. Covetousness is a quiet confidence in what a man can put together to forestall tomorrow. Covetousness is a quiet desire to possess today, all which tomorrow will need. Covetousness is a desire to keep something that is not actually a necessity today, for next year. Covetousness is a desire to possess tomorrow, today. Covetousness is fighting for your Rights when God has not yet permitted you to have it.
Dear Friend, May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. The eyes of our understanding being enlightened; that we may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints is.(Ephesians 1:17-18). May we begin to see from the view points of Heaven and live our lives according to the principles of Faith.(Amen). God bless you. Have a blessed day.
#Everyday with Jesus.