On the surface, our next Jesus Says command seems limited to only a few. But when we dig a little deeper, think a little broader, and really understand what Jesus is saying we see that it applies to everyone. Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15, NIV)
This statement was Jesus’ response to a man who wanted Jesus to command his brother to share the inheritance. Jesus responded by stating he wasn’t the judge or arbiter between himself and his brother. Jesus then spoke the command above and went on to illustrate what he meant with a story that can be summed up as “you can’t take it with you.” Jesus concluded, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21, NIV)
Here’s the shocking part that we may not see. Greed is not limited to the rich, it’s just that the rich may have been more successful at it. A person with little can be just as greedy as a person with much.
That may sound strange to you. Like saying that a person struggling with anorexia is gluttonous. But the truth is that greed is an attitude of the heart (so is gluttony). You see, greed and gluttony are about making our lives center on something other than Jesus. In the case of greed, it is money and possessions, for gluttony it is food. A rich person may or may not be greedy in the same way that an overweight person may or may not be gluttonous. The bottom line is that we have all fallen into the trap of greed.
Greed may have several sources. Fear about never having enough. A feeling that possessions somehow validate our existence and value. Desiring the power that comes with having. Having a competitiveness that is always looking to get ahead. Feeling that possessions are a sign of blessing. But these are more than just sources of greed, we also use them to justify our greed and feel right about it.
Let me be clear, our bank account is not a sign of blessing. Neither is having little a sign of God’s disfavor. In fact, it can be rightly said that God is closer to the poor, the left out, and those on the fringes.
Greed also takes many forms. Money and possessions are the most obvious. We can also be greedy with our time, our attention, the value we place on ourselves and others, our position or place of authority, and our rights. Just about everything we can put the word “our” or “my” in front of can be an object of greed.
The question, what really matters, is whether we are rich towards God. Is He the controlling influence in our lives, not money, not power, not sex, not leisure, not food, not anything else. Only God and Him alone. This richness towards God changes how we steward all of these things because He is our treasure.
Jesus says beware of greed