The Dangers of Desiring more

Preaching the Parables  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Covetousness is a sin of idolatry that affects both sinners and saints

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Desiring more often results in Division (Luke 12:13-14)

Explanation: Jesus is addressing the crowds in this section of Luke and has been teaching on several different topics. The setting for this parable is introduced by a question from one in the crowd. In the midst of Jesus’ teaching on how important it is to fear God rather than man and other issues of eternal significance, this guy interrupts and asks Jesus to intervene in his family dispute. Evidently the father has just died and this guy wants Jesus to serve as a Judge so his brother will not be able to claim more of the inheritance.
Jesus’ reply is instructive: He responds with a question designed to reveal the motive of the questioner. (Jesus often responded in this manner and the questions of Jesus are highly instructive). His question serves as a dismissal to the questioner. What Jesus is stating is that He didn’t come to earth to settle temporal matters; rather, He came to settle matters of Eternity.
illustrate: marriage counseling session when I learned that the wife had a sizeable inheritance as a result of her father’s early death. She made the husband sign a pre-nuptial agreement to protect her money. When I asked her about the issue, she got very defensive and changed the subject, and then stopped attending church.
Argument: The man’s statement brings out how covetousness results in division in relationships. Covetousness is the “Strong desire to have that which belongs to another. It is considered to be a very grievous offense in Scripture. The tenth commandment forbids coveting anything that belongs to a neighbor, including his house, his wife, his servants, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to him (Exod. 20:17). Jesus listed covetousness or greed along with many of the sins from within, including adultery, theft, and murder, which make a person unclean (Mark 7:22)
William J. Woodruff, “Covetousness,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, electronic ed., Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), 132.
To expand on the dangers of covetousness Jesus tells the crowd a parable. We often give it the title of the “Parable of the Rich Fool”

Desiring more is rooted in selfishness (Luke 12:16-19)

Explanation: In the parable we are told of a certain rich man who was blessed with a magnificent, exponential explosion of growth. His crops produced super - abundantly and he was amazed at how well he was doing. His blessings presented him with a problem in that he was faced with the quandary of how to take care of all of this extra (v. 17) His solution reveals the condition of his heart - he decides to tear down his old storage units and replace them with much bigger storage units. This solution will allow him to store his riches while he navigates the easy life.
Argument: Many readers may be puzzled at Jesus’ response to the Rich man’s solution. As one pastor I listened to said, “this seems like good stewardship. This looks like a good business model. As the business expands, the structure has to expand with it.”
We can struggle with this parable because it reveals much of what we desire for ourselves. We want to do well in business and to make a profit and to be able to have some nice things in life. We even have a phrase for this mindset - “just living the dream!”
The problem is not in having nice things; the problem is when those things possess us. Notice how many times the first person pronoun is used in this section. The Rich Man says “I will” six times in three sentences (verses). His statements reveal a singular focus and a total disregard for anyone else.

Desiring more is covetousness, which is a form of Idolatry (Luke 12:15, 21a)

Explanation: Jesus introduces the parable with a warning about covetousness and that a person is not to be defined by how much stuff he owns (v. 15). The definition of covetousness has already been shared, but what we often fail to realize is how much of our heart is revealed in our desires.
Example: Consider the OT example of Achan. He was involved in the battle of Jericho and he was aware of the ban (Joshua 6:18-19). Achan disregarded the ban because he coveted some of the spoil (Joshua 7:20-21) and the result of his action was Israel being defeated and 36 of your fellow Israelites killed (Joshua 7:5)
Argument: We must understand that covetousness is idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of a false god, and it assumes various forms. The sophisticated idolater of the 21st century doesn’t bow down to crafted images made from wood or precious metals; he or she substitutes things like money, power, nice things, and maybe even children to bring contentment or a sense of fulfillment.
Jesus never fully identifies His target audience for this parable. Because of this, Peter asks Jesus if the parable is meant for the crowd or for the disciples. Jesus doesn’t answer Peter directly, but launches into further teaching on stewardship, discipleship, and devotion. This leaves us with the very real possibility the parable applies to both the lost and the saved. While lost people can be slaves to covetousness, it is is sin that overcomes many believers. We must be on guard against the subtle threats which seek to gain first place in our hearts.
Application: Believers are commanded to put covetousness to death. It is named as one of the sinful members in the vice list in Colossians 3:5 and in that list covetousness is equated with idolatry. These are the passions that bring forth the wrath of God and we are to put them off (Col 3:8) .

The only cure for covetousness is Desiring more of God (Luke 12:21b)

Explanation: Jesus ends the parable proper in v. 21 where he states that a person who stores up treasure on this earth instead of becoming rich toward God is the same as the fool! These are stern words from the Master! Jesus continues His teaching after the parable and the subject matter focuses on seeking the things of God instead of the things of the world (Luke 12:22-34).
Argument: A similar teaching is found in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:19-21) where Jesus expressly commands His followers not to store up things on the earth, but to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Luke 6:20). He ends this section with the powerful statement “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt 6:21).
I listened to a sermon by Pastor Charles Bonadies at Suber Road Baptist in Greer, SC on the trip back from Georgia last night on this text, and he asked his congregation a thought-provoking question. He asked, “when your mind is in neutral, where does it go?” When you have free time, how do you spend it? What are you pursuing?
If we aren’t pursuing God as our first priority, we can fall into idolatry. The real issue isn’t coveting in and of itself - the danger lies in what we covet. I could have titled a subtitle to this message The Danger of Desiring More (of the wrong things)
Do we Desire God? When God has first place in our hearts and lives the lure of covetousness will fade. He alone is the cure for the sin of covetousness.
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