These are rough notes for a talk on covetousness and consumerism:
I. The Good of Wealth
God seems quite fond of gold and jewels. In Genesis 2 we read of the gold of Havilah, where there is also bdellium and onyx. When Solomon builds the temple, it is made of gold and cedar. The New Jerusalem in the New Heavens and Earth has streets of pure gold, walls of jasper. “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel” (Rev. 21:19). When describes the glory of God in the place, he compares it to “a most rare jewel, a jasper, clear as crystal” (Rev. 21:11).
Those who search the sky have found a planet completely made of diamond and a star where it rains olivine, a green stone like an emerald; crystals in comets and gems on the surface and mountains of crystal on the moon. Apparently, two neutron stars smashing into each other creates oceans of gold.
When God blessed Job, he gave him wealth (Job 42:10-17). And when Solomon showed humility in asking for wisdom, God blessed Solomon by giving him wealth (1 Kings 3:12-13). Riches are in the right hand of wisdom (Prov. 3:16; 8:18):
4 The reward for humility and fear of the LORD
is riches and honor and life. Proverbs 22:4 (ESV)
II What then is the trouble with stuff?
A) Read from “The Journey to the Bending Light”.
Ask the kids – what’s the trouble with the toys?
Are toys bad? Is it wrong to play with the toys?
They wear them out by chasing the wrong things.
They make them discontent.
The toys lead them to covet and coveting leads to more sin.
B) No amount of property in this world will make us content
1. Ecclesiastes 2:1-11: In the end, he owned an illusion.
a) Riches don’t keep: they are vain. 1:2 Proverbs 27:24, “riches do not last forever”.
James 1:11 (ESV)
11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
b) Proverbs 11:4 (ESV)
4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath,
but righteousness delivers from death.
2. When riches are end in themselves, they only leave to covetousness:
a) It ruins us in this life leading in pursuit of something which can never make us happy.
1 Timothy 6:9–10 (ESV)
9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
b) It ruins us for the life to come:
Luke 12:13–21 (ESV)
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he 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.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
III How does covetousness work?
A) What is going on with the desire for wealth?
1) When a young man wishes to marry a young lady, he may give her a ring. The ring causes her to think of him. The ring is a token. But what if she were to love the ring and not the boy?
2) Think of the ways in which wealth is spoken of as a good thing:
a) The Garden,
b) The New Jerusalem
c) God’s glory
d) The Temple
e) Wealth given as a blessing alleviates some of the pain caused by the Fall.
3) Wealth appeals to our desire for something greater than this vain, fallen world.
B) What then is the trouble with wealth?
a) Our focus is directed to the toy alone.
b) The rich fool who forgot God.
c) The wicked whose wealth causes them to forget God:
Psalm 73:11–12 (ESV)
11 And they say, “How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
12 Behold, these are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
d) Wealth becomes the end.
4): Augustine Book 10, Chapter 29:
For he loves You too little who loves anything with You, which he loves not for You, O love, who ever burnest, and art never quenched!
5) Here then is the secret:
a) We must receive all things – wealth as a gift from God:
Ecclesiastes 5:18–20 (ESV)
18 Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. 19 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.
b) We must allow wealth or poverty to cause us to forget God:
Proverbs 30:7–9 (ESV)
7 Two things I ask of you;
deny them not to me before I die:
8 Remove far from me falsehood and lying;
give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the food that is needful for me,
9 lest I be full and deny you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest I be poor and steal
and profane the name of my God.
Philippians 4:11–12 (ESV)
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 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.
c) Contentment, ultimately, is a gift which comes by means of faith from Christ:
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (ESV)