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“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).
There’s been a lot of shopping the last several days and will be until Christmas. But then there will also be “the after Christmas sales” (Brooksyne’s favorite shopping time). Last week we had Black Friday, Saturday was Small Business Saturday and today is Cyber Monday, a marketing term used since the early days of internet-based shopping to connote the special deals available to online shopping the Monday following Thanksgiving.
These three days mark the “official” start of the Christmas shopping season, at least here in the USA, although “Black Friday” deals have been posted all month. Now our snail mail and email boxes are both loaded with more than the usual amount of sales pitches.
Even when I’m studying from an online Bible the ads pop up! Our lawn tractor needs to be replaced so I have been doing searches online. Now, as I am examining today’s text in Bible Gateway I notice that Home Depot has an ad beside the Bible showing various lawn tractors for sale which I admit did distract me!
Most of us make purchases during the holidays so we can provide gifts to others, but many of us also make purchases for ourselves during these sales as well. The materialistic hype during the holiday season highlights an ancient problem the human race has dealt with since the time of creation; “greed”. In a sense greed was demonstrated by Adam and Eve at the time of the original sin. They were surrounded by beauty and more than enough provisions were allotted to them; provisions they didn’t have to share with anyone else, but they wanted even more!
Greed can impact us all regardless of how wealthy or poor we consider ourselves to be. The Lord Jesus Himself warns, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15).
A nifty page on the Bible Gateway site lists all the versions of a particular verse. One of my first tools when studying a passage is to examine this page. Here’s the link to Luke 12:15.
Let us give consideration to today’s verse phrase by phrase:
“Watch out!” Other versions render this “take heed” and “beware”. In the Bible this word precedes something we really need to give our attention to!
“Be on your guard against” This speaks to our personal responsibility in this matter. It is in the present imperative which is a call to a long-term commitment for our attitude or action to be our continual way of life (lifestyle). (See here) This needs to begin when we are young since even children demonstrate greed. No matter how young or old, the temptation to be greedy is lurking, as we candidly acknowledge!
“All kinds of greed” Greed takes many forms. Although in the context of today’s passage it’s material things the dictionary states, “Having or showing a strong or excessive desire to acquire money or possess things, especially wishing to possess more than what one needs or deserves. 2. Having or showing a desire to eat or drink in large or excessive amounts. 3. Extremely eager or desirous for an activity or pursuit: greedy for the opportunity to prove their ability.”
“Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” This is especially where I find the various renderings in different translations helpful:
- “For not even when one has an overflowing abundance does his life consist of nor is it derived from his possessions.” (Amplified)
- “One’s life isn’t determined by one’s possessions, even when someone is very wealthy.” (Common English Bible)
- “A man’s life is not measured by how many possessions he has.” (Evangelical Heritage Version)
- “Your true life is not made up of the things you own, no matter how rich you may be.” (Good News Translation)
- “For real life and real living are not related to how rich we are.” (The Living Bible)
Now let us be very candid here. Today’s warning is to all, including a self warning to the writers of this daily encouragement. We readily admit that, in this world with an abundance of material things promising to make life easier or happier, we continually need to find balance. Hard to believe, but we read of one man in a previous generation who fought his greedy nature by living on a pole in the desert (true story). The antidote to greed is contentedness, a topic we will examine in tomorrow’s message.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, why is it, that when we’re given far more than we need, we want even more! It seems that we try to find satisfaction, enjoyment, and comfort in material things that are temporal which can distract us from spiritual pursuits which have lasting eternal value. When we are tempted to indulge help us indulge in that which has lasting value and influences others for the kingdom of God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
May the Lord help us to keep a healthy balance so that we are not loaded down with unhealthy debt for we should be careful to let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another. See Romans 13:8