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A lesson in Envy and Covetousness

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.”  (Luk 12:13-15)

Undoubtedly, this brother who was on the short end of the inheritance felt he could do a better job with the money. Perhaps he felt he deserved the money laboring under the impression that he deserved it. Funny thing about inheritances, you have to wait till someone dies to get it. Which begs the question, what is more valuable, the person or the gift the person left behind? Only when the person is of more value, can a person truly appreciate the inheritance left.

The difficulty when others have money and you don’t is that you often feel as if you could benefit from what they have, especially when that money is viewed as a surplus. “They have enough”, “they won’t miss it”, “a little given to me won’t be missed”, you begin to think judgmentally. If you spend enough time thinking about this, it can quickly become a source of covetousness, envy, or jealousy that will ruin relationships.

Let’s start with a basic fact: God is in control. If you don’t know that and name the name of the Lord, you need to go back and read the Bible in places like Daniel, Joseph, and Job. Learn that God is in control. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1) and he is a generous God who also knows what we can handle and what we cannot. The brother in the text above may not have been capable of dealing with more money.  Can you deal with a lot of money? (The parable Jesus tells next demonstrates a person who could not handle it and used it poorly)

Second, even when you have money, it is not your life. If we have food and clothing, with these we should be content. Here was a man who wanted to money and without it did not seem to be content. His brother had the inheritance and it just didn’t seem right. Even if the money had been divided, life is not found in physical possessions, nor even in good health. Your life ( the whole of man) consists of fearing God and keeping his commandments. God is able to take care of you.

Still, even in the lesson, we can learn something for both sides. Those with and those without money. Your life does not consist in what you have, or what you can buy. The parable that Jesus tells next, I think addresses those who want and those who have much money.  Money is a tool and the best use of that tool is promoting the Kingdom of God. For an individual, that means that they work to have for their needs and yet, should not fail to do good to those who have a need. Still, the rule of thumb is your family needs first because to not tend to your family needs makes you an infidel, actually worse than an infidel. Then you have to give to those who have a need also.

This brother would have been better off focusing on his relationship with God first and let God bless him as He saw fit. At the very least, we know that those who serve the Lord, are laying up for themselves treasures in Heaven.

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