Luke 12:15 - And He [Jesus] 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."
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour message, a rebroadcast of a classic sermon by Dr. Oswald Hoffmann.
Jesus had a huge heart for people in need, but He did not confuse human need with human greed. Never did He imagine that something becomes a true necessity just because some people say so. For instance, how many phones, tablets, apps, pairs of shoes, or changes of clothing does it take to meet life's bare necessities, and without which you cannot live comfortably? The answer to that question will tell us a lot about ourselves.
To be sure, there are many among us who do without life's bare necessities, and this is a tragedy in any society. For them living is a constant struggle of never having enough, of just getting by. Yet, while those who have little often dream of the material goods that seem beyond their reach, they too need to be on guard "against all covetousness."
John the apostle tells us that Jesus Christ knew what was in man and was totally aware of what life is all about. Indeed, in Him was life and that life was—and is—the light of men (see John 1:1-4). As the Son of God, our Lord respected the creation, the material creation of God. He used material things wherever it suited Him. His love, however, was for people.
And in spite of their willful transgression against the will of His Father and their rebellious refusal to live as His sons and daughters, He willingly became a Man. He gave His life that all people everywhere might be forgiven every sin they've committed—that they might enjoy life to the full again—regardless of their state of material possession.
Naturally, there is nothing wrong with working hard and making money in the employment of the gifts God has given you. But don't set your heart on the things your money can buy. Instead, with everything that is in you, work hard at being the man or woman, the boy or girl, God wants you to be. That's real life, depending in no way on the number of your possessions.
Pray hard, too, that God will make you the man or woman, the boy or girl, who earnestly desires the fruits of His righteousness. That's real life, depending in no way on the number of your possessions. This is the life Jesus wants us to know—one that draws its strength and contentment from Him.
By faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior, know that you have everything you need. As the apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:12-13: "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
WE PRAY: Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us everything we need: Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.
From "Everything Is So Expensive," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. What would you say is the difference between a necessity and luxury?
2. How can we resist the urge to keep filling our lives with material things?
3. There are many things that take our attention off God. How do you maintain focus?
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