7 Signs You Are Coveting

In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus gives us seven signs we are coveting. Verse 15 begins specifically: “Take care, and be on guard against all covetousness.” What are these 7 signs?

  1. You are discontent with your current abundance. The rich man’s barns, which had been sufficient for his abundance, now seemed too small. The more we amass, the more we covet. A corollary to this one is, we amass too much to enjoy sufficiently, if at all. Do you use your garage to park your car? Do you have a storage shed or unit? What do you have that you never use? Could the money you spent on that have gone to helping people in your church or community?
  2. You think only how to spend on yourself.
  3. You ignore the needs of those around you. In today’s global age, our functional “neighbors” can be anyone, anywhere. While a general rule of generosity is to begin closer to home (this is where the Lord put us, after all), needs abound locally and globally. However, a covetous person is blissfully ignorant of anyone else’s needs, and is focused solely on his or her wants. When the rich man in Jesus’ parable asked, “What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?” (v. 17), he answered himself wrongly. Rather than tearing down the current barns and building bigger barns, he should have kept his current barns stocked and given the excess away to the poor.
  4. You think only of this life. “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be marry” (v. 19).
  5. Therefore, you ignore eternity. We cannot take the temporal things with us. “And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (v. 20). True wisdom and wealth is found in being “rich toward God” (v. 21).
  6. Furthermore, you presume upon your past success and ease, assuming it will continue indefinitely. But Jesus says, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you” (v. 20). None of us knows when the Lord will “require” our soul from us.
  7. You are concerned only with your material possessions and not your eternal soul. But physical death and separation from our material possessions is inevitable; our soul will live on.

A consequence of covetousness is, it robs us of real joy and peace. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus follows the section on generosity and laying up our treasures in heaven with the section on anxiety. In our passage, Jesus says, “Our life does not consist in the abundance of our possessions” (v. 15). Furthermore, the end of the rich man in Jesus’ parable is the same as “the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not generous toward God” (v. 21), which is often characterized by giving to the poor. The gospel led the early church to sell their possessions and give the proceeds to the church, so the church could distribute to the poor (see Acts 4:32-37). We are told, “there was not a needy person among them” (v. 34). Around us, however, there is much need and much anxiety. Maybe you are dealing with anxiety? While anxiety can arise for any number of reasons, could it be that your anxiety is indicating you are covetous? How would being generous toward God with what He has given you impact your anxiety? How would living out voluntary sacrificial giving of wealth to the church for the sake of the poor (not to make the “pastors” rich!) impact our communities?

Let us determine to enjoy what God has given us and to be generous with much of our own possessions, time, and gifts.