TOPIC:“The Sin the Christian May Commit” (Covetousness)
by Rev. Dr. Reg Dunlap
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man's life
does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (v. 15)
I want to begin this message with an actual story and then follow it up with an amazing statement. Both have to do with a different aspect of covetousness. First of all the story.
When archeologists were excavating the ruinous remains of the ancient city of Pompeii in Italy where thousands of people died during the eruption of a nearby volcano, they found through uncovering the bodies that many of those people were caught completely by surprise by the sudden explosion of the mountain. People were found sitting at their tables with the food still on their dinner plates. Still others were asleep in their beds. But when the archeologists uncovered the body of one lady they found clutched in her hands thousands of dollars worth of precious jewels. The evidence seems to indicate that as destruction and death rained down from the mountain above, she with a covetous spirit endangered her life by trying to save her wealth. In doing so it probably helped lead to her death. Here we have a covetousness which led to SADNESS.
Now approaching our subject from another direction, listen to the amazing statement of the great missionary to China, Jonathan Goforth, who wrote these words to a friend: “I am sixty-five years old today. Oh, how I covet, more than a miser his gold, twenty more years of this soul-saving work.” Here we find a covetousness which led to SERVICE. In this message I want to deal with three different aspects of covetousness. A covetousness that is DENIED. A covetousness that is DESIRED. A covetousness that is DIVINE.
Let's begin our journey by returning to the words of our text to find out what the Bible has to say about the way this word is used.
Consider, to begin with, a covetousness that is DENIED. In the words of our text Jesus warned against it in these words: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness” (v. 15). The NLT renders the words of Jesus this way: “Beware! Don't be greedy for what you don't have.” Williams gives us this rendering: “Be ever on the alert and always on your guard against every form of greed.”
Now before we come to grip with these words . . .