“And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness …’”
— Luke 12:15
Have you ever wanted something so badly that you put yourself in too much debt? Or have you ever fudged a little on your taxes so you could squirrel away some money to buy something for yourself?
Think for a moment: What desire fuels these actions? Could it be covetousness?
Jesus says, “Beware of covetousness,” which is defined as an “inordinate desire to have something.” It’s an easy sin to hide, but it’s sin just the same. The Pharisees put on an outward show of righteousness, yet Christ saw their hearts when he called them “whited sepulchers [graves].” Though outwardly respectable, they were inwardly full of dead men’s bones because of their covetousness.
God requires a total transformation of what, to the fallen world, seems so natural that it never even comes under question. Thousands of books will tell you how you can obtain the things of this world. But the authors and readers of these books set their affections on things, and never question whether their lives are misdirected.
At this point you may be wondering, “If God commands us not to covet things, can I not desire anything or have any ambition?” Let me give you a word picture that might help you answer that question. Abraham Kuyper compares our lives to a magnificent sailing vessel. He says a ship may have beautiful masts and billowing sails filled with ocean breezes. Its banners may flutter in the wind, and its hull may be loaded with all manner of wonderful cargo. Yet the entire destiny of that ship rests on something tiny and unseen: the rudder. That small rudder, beneath the surface of the ocean, determines whether that great ship ends up resting peacefully in the harbor or lying scattered among rocks on some barren shore.
The same is true of our lives. We may have tremendous ambitions and the power to make them realities. Our lives may be laden with treasures, talents, and successes. Yet the final destination of our lives, whether in the glorious harbor of Heaven or scattered among the rocks of Hell, is determined by an unseen rudder—our motives—that turns us toward ourselves or toward God. When we do everything solely for God’s glory, it does not matter how rich or accomplished we are. We can be fulfilled and obedient with much or with little.
Today, assess the direction of your rudder. Are your aspirations pointing you toward the harbor or toward the rocks? Remember Christ’s admonishment—“Beware of covetousness”— and pursue possessions and ambitions only when they draw you in His direction.