Luke 12 v 15. “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Jesus says we are to be on our guard against all kinds of greed. He apparently taught that greed and covetousness could come in many guises. Maybe in our own lives we display a secret spirit of covetousness more than we are aware. A comment dropped here or there about money, possessions, financial matters – even about politics could arise out of a heart governed by covetousness.
The Greek word used by our Lord for covetousness, is a word meaning “having” or “wanting to have more”. It could refer to having more than our fair share.
But Jesus tells us to beware because our lives do not consist of the “abundance” of what we possess. This is a reference to having excess, that is possessing more than enough. Our Lord is not condemning a reasonable supply of goods in this life. To have such is not wrong or unnecessary. What Jesus is saying that a man’s life, identity, importance – does not come from having lots of stuff, over and above what is necessary.
Yet that is exactly what some people today do in fact believe about themselves. How many times have we not seen wealthy people flaunt their wealth in public and spend obscene amounts of money on parties, clothes and other ultimately trivial pursuits. They say to the world: “See how important I am. I am rich and can afford to do these things. I have money. Therefore I am important.”
It is all nonsense of course, but a gullible, equally covetous and envious public always adore rich people. Even poor people can be covetous, greedy and envious. But that is not what life ultimately consists of. We all have souls. Our souls need a place to rest. We need to “consist” in something. What is it? Jesus is about to tell us.