“Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
One common sin within the church, and among congregations is “covetousness”. Each member is seeking to have whatever material posessions others have or more at whatever cost. Likewise, each congregation is seeking to have whatever religious practices and materials other congregations have or more, no matter what it costs. In the end, either the individual or the congregation ends up so exhausted that satisfaction and contentment always seem to be out of reach.
What is preached ongoingly is that having a lot of material possessions is believed to be “God’s blessings onto the self-righteous”, while the lack of those possessions is asserted as “God’s wrath onto the sinful”. To top it off, “God favors the rich over the poor”.
What about the gospel in such situations? The proclaiming and teaching and receiving of the gospel is nowhere to be found. If it is proclaimed, preached, or taught, no one can receive it joyfully, because everyone is worrying about getting the next big “thing”.
“The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)
I know this and can testify of this sin because in my former religious life, I lived it. I remember seeing myself and others always dissatisfied with what we had, and always chasing after the next big “thing”, but never truly come to lasting contentment. The more we did it, the more we became self-righteous, praised by others, and arrogant and boastful in ourselves. The very things Christ set us free from, we found ourselves seeking satisfaction in their practices. Nobody at the time taught us of such freedom, the freedom from sin, the freedom to live by the Spirit.
What can we do whenever we find ourselves in such situations?
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
What we all have as Christians is Jesus. Be content with him. Money is not here to stay, but Jesus is. He will never leave us nor abandon us. And that’s why we praise his name daily, because he is in us daily, never to leave us. Amen.