By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Jesus wants to ensure we focus on the kingdom of God above all else. Whenever we find ourselves focusing on things that perish, we know we are focused on the wrong thing. In the Old and New Testament, covetousness was a something we should abstain from. Primarily because we are devaluing the life and blessings God gave us every time we believe we are entitled to what others have.
Luke 12:13-15 (ESV): Someone in 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 arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
There are many reasons to avoid coveting what others have, but Jesus focuses on two things. He discusses the significance of having all the riches in the world and the final Judgement. In the grand scheme of life, would having more possessions insure our happiness? We often find the answer is no. When looking at the divorce and suicide rate among the wealthiest among us, it increases drastically compared to those who own less.
Luke 12:16-21 (ESV): And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
Jesus also wants us to consider whether being rich can help us please God. Scripture shows being rich can be a hindrance for many because rich people tend to rely on their own abilities instead of God (Matthew 19:23-24). We need to continually remind ourselves all good things we receive are a blessing from God (James 1:17). If we don’t have it, we must not need it is the conclusion Jesus appears to confirm. Notice Jesus says, He was “not the judge or arbitrator” over these matters. Jehovah gave Jesus reign over all the earth, so He could arbitrate this matter if it was significant enough (Matthew 28:18). Jesus is the High Priest who intercedes on our behalf and He is also going to preside over the final Judgement of the entire world (Hebrews 7:25-26; Matthew 25:31-46). With His statement, Jesus is reaffirming the amount of things we have do not bring us salvation or happiness; so He is not concerned and neither should we.