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One Nation Under Greed

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
August 3, 2022 12:00 am

One Nation Under Greed

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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August 3, 2022 12:00 am

If God really is sovereign and He has promised to meet all our needs, then why do we covet? In this message Stephen reminds us that contentment will be found when we stop asking for more from God and start asking for more of God.

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And I will say to my soul, soul you have many goods laid up. Six times he says I. Five times he refers to himself, me, mine.

It's interesting that this individual who is wrapped up just as you and myself, ladies and gentlemen, who are wrapped up in coveting the passion for possessing, guess what? We get wrapped up in ourselves. What we want, where we're going, if that battle is not conquered by the Spirit of God every time we walk out the front door, we develop lives centered around ourselves. What is often the best circumstance for God to shape your character? Times of prosperity?

Is that when you seem to grow the most? Or is it times of adversity that God uses most? Adversity really is a good teacher, but it's usually an unwelcome teacher as we're going through it. This is wisdom for the heart. Today our teacher, Steven Davey, is applying this principle to our finances. We've come to the end of our Vintage Wisdom series on the Ten Commandments.

This lesson is called One Nation Under Greed. Grab your Bible if you're able to as you spend the next 25 minutes in God's Word. One of my favorite automobiles is a Volvo 760 GLE Turbo. It's a great family car.

It really is. And then when the family's not with you, you've got that turbo. But we had a family call us, a dear family called. My wife said, hey, I understand you're going to Atlanta. What are you going to drive? And she said, well, you know, the Chrysler. And they said, no. They said, we just bought a brand new car. We want you to take that to Atlanta.

You guessed it. They pulled up in the driveway in a brand new 1990 760 GLE Volvo Turbo. My wife won't even appreciate it. That's the problem. She'll get a thing out of that eight speaker system and everything else.

And I, you know, they pulled up and I thought, Lord, this is not funny at all. It's two days and I've got to preach on this subject. We're going to deal with a subject that you may seem or think is very anticlimactic to the list of 10. And yet I believe this commandment knocks at our doors more than any other.

If you have your Bibles, take them and turn to Exodus chapter 20. And we're going to look at the subject of covetousness. A sister word is greed. It's interesting that one company considered covetousness to be a solution to their problem. An American company based in Panama was having trouble with their employees quitting the job. It was an agrarian economy society where these people didn't have much money. And after a week's work, when they got their, their cash from this company, they had more money than they had ever seen in their lives.

And they assume that's all they would ever need. And they would often quit. So the executives put their heads together and decided a way to keep them. They gave each employee a copy of a Sears catalog. And all of a sudden those people saw things they had never dreamed of before and realized they needed more.

And the ratio of employee turnover was incredibly reduced. Now it may, it may be a solution for this company, but the problem is it has invaded our culture and it invades our churches. Covetousness or greed, if you would call it that. It's prevalent in our society.

You've just been reading the newspapers for the past month and you've discovered that truth. It pervades everything about our culture and our society. And it's interesting when we study these commands that they are so relevant to today. Look at it with me. That command is given in verse 17. He says, you shall not covet your neighbor's house.

You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his servants, male or female, or his oxen, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. Now the word covet is the Hebrew word hamar. It means to desire, to take pleasure in.

In fact, it is a neutral word. You go to the New Testament and you find the counterpart of this word is pleonexia, which means literally a passion for possessing. I've got to have that. The thing that makes this so hideous is you are coveting something that belongs to somebody else. It is seeing that thing, that object, that person that someone else has or has the right to and you covet that thing or that person. And he really gets to the nubbies here.

I mean, he isn't playing games. He says, don't covet possessions. Don't covet spouses. Don't covet anything. Don't take pleasure in pursuing possessions that are not rightfully yours. So I study this passage. It's interesting that I think we could make a case that coveting begins or is built on a foundation of comparisons.

It is built on perhaps the foundation of comparison. Your car is just fine until a Volvo turbo pulls up into the driveway. Your house is perfectly adequate until you go visit so-and-so and you see what they've got. And the terrible thing about this is your wife is all right. Totally acceptable until you start comparing her with someone else's wife or husband with someone else's husband.

Comparing. I mean, we can joke about it and laugh, but isn't that true? You know, you find out, ladies, that Henry bought his wife flowers last week. Now that wife that got flowers, she's going to make sure that three or four of her friends find out and she's going to wait for an opportune moment, like when her friend calls her and says, what are you cooking for supper? I don't know, but my husband just bought me flowers.

You know, really let into that. I think this passage is probably a tremendous text for marriage in itself. Don't covet your neighbor's wife. What does that mean? Or spouse?

That is working through what God has given you. Somebody once wrote that marriage is like taking a plane trip to the Bahamas for vacation. When the plane arrives, you get off and discover you're in the Swiss Alps. The ingredient that is necessary is learning how to ski.

I love that. The healthy ingredient in every marriage, even though you may observe someone else's and think, boy, that's so much better. The healthy ingredient is that in our marriages, we have all discovered how to ski. So in the process of discovering that, stop looking around and comparing that situation, your financial situation, what you have or don't have. God says directly through Moses, stop desiring possessions that don't belong to you or people. Let me give you two principles before we move on. This command is not prohibiting activity but attitude. It's crucial to understand.

It is an attitude that may lead to activity, but what he is condemning here is that attitude. He is not prohibiting the overt act of the hand, but the inner secrets of the heart. Nobody else knows about, but you. The struggle no one else would have a clue you're going through, but you. He says in the inner recesses of your heart, there is where you covet.

It is there where the battle is won. Don't in the secrecy of your heart covet. Don't covet persons.

We could translate this into today's society. Don't covet someone's position. You look around the job and you think that guy that just got promoted, you should have gotten that one.

You're much more capable than he is. And so what do you do? Well, you do the same thing that you and I both learned to do. All you guys, you know, back then in junior high school, you're sitting the bench watching the basketball team play.

I speak from experience, so maybe I ought to personalize this. I'm out there and I'm second string and there's Doug Yates. I still remember that character. He was first string. I'm watching the whole game and you know what I'm hoping? My team wins? No way.

I'm hoping he breaks his leg so that I can get in there and play. He's got the position I want. Bring that right into where we live today.

People have positions. People have possessions we want. Can we rejoice in what God's given them? Absolutely not. Somebody once said it's so easy to weep with people who weep, but it's so difficult to rejoice with those that rejoice. Why? Because we're covetous.

We are greedy people. It's interesting in Romans chapter seven, the apostle Paul who took pride in his standing before the law. I didn't discover this till recently. Romans chapter seven, Paul says, I discovered according to the law that I am dead. And he pulls one of those commands out and guess which one it was that confronted him. Thou shall not covet.

And Paul said, I have been able to handle the other nine, but it is this one that lays me low. Now I want to take this command into the New Testament and I want to illustrate it and apply it. So turn to Luke if you would please. Luke chapter 12. Luke chapter 12. And here is an illustration and application of the sin of coveting. Look at verse 13. Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.

Interesting. He didn't say please or I don't have, I have a right to this, but just, Lord, you've got authority. Tell him to divvy up the spoils. Verse 14. Jesus said to him, man, who pointed me a judge or arbiter over you, beware, be on guard against every form of greed.

That's the word pleonexia, covetousness. For not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions. So he tells them a parable and here it is illustrated. The land of a certain rich man was very productive and he began reasoning with himself saying, what shall I do since I have no place to store my crops? And I want to give you now in this passage three failures in this fool's life. The first one was he failed to consider his neighbor and you ought to, as I read through here, just circle the words, I, me, my.

Alright. He began reasoning to himself. Verse 17. What shall I do since I have no place to store my crops? He said, this is what I will do.

I'll tear down my barns and build larger ones and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, soul, you have many goods laid up. Six times he says, I. Five times he refers to himself, me, mine. It's interesting that this individual who is wrapped up just as you and myself, ladies and gentlemen, who are wrapped up in coveting the passion for possessing.

Guess what? We get wrapped up in ourselves. If that battle is not conquered by the Spirit of God every time we walk out the front door, we develop lives centered around ourselves. What we want, where we're going, the position I want to have. The list of things I want, the bottom line in the bank account.

I, me, my. Very wealthy man. By the way, wealth is in itself too neutral is how you handle it. This individual had a terrible disposition, very selfish man. He came to visit a Bible teacher. This Bible teacher was writing, he records the visit.

He said, I have a lot of money and it's made me very selfish, but I'm not really sure why. And this Bible teacher took him over to the window and he said, look out, what do you see? He looked out the window on the street below and he said, I see men, women and children. Took the man by the arm and he took him over to a mirror and he said, and now what do you see? He said, now I see myself. This teacher said in the mirror and in the window is glass.

The only difference is the glass of the mirror has been coated thinly on one side with a coat of silver. No sooner do you add the silver that you begin seeing only yourself and not people. See the tragedy of this man in this story is not that he was wealthy. The tragedy was he was wrapped up in a very little package called himself. That's one failure in this fool's life.

He failed to consider his neighbor. Paul writes to his son in the faith and first Timothy chapter six. And he says, listen, the love of money, not money, but the love of money is the root of all evil.

We usually stop there, but we forget there's the rest of the verse there. He says, and some coveting after it have wandered from the faith and have pierced themselves with many sorrows. You know what I think one of the chief sorrows of that is in relation to this scripture? Loneliness.

I think an individual who's wrapped up in himself is a very lonely person because no one else can invade his life. He failed to consider his neighbor. Secondly, he failed to recognize his own mortality. Let's look at the last part of verse 19. So you have many goods laid up for many years to come.

Underline that many years to come. Take your ease, eat, drink, be married. But God said to him, you fool, this very night your soul is required of you. I used to think that God was taking his life.

That isn't it at all. The fact was God knew that that man would die that night. Heart attack, whatever a burglar breaking in, taking his life, we don't know. God knew that his life would end that night. This man didn't know it.

He said, I have many years and I'm just going to settle back and spend it on myself. And God says, you fool, this very night your soul is required of you. And now who will own what you have prepared? It's interesting that Charlemagne, the great conqueror, his tomb was discovered and opened to the shock of the archeologists. They found that Charlemagne had been positioned in his throne on his request. And he was seated on this golden overlaid chair or throne. And he was dressed in the finest that he had owned. He was just a skeleton at this time.

And yet his hand had been fixed on his knee with his index finger pointing. And they came closer and they discovered he had woven into the fabric of that material. Mark chapter eight, verse 36. He was a believer. And it said this of this world conqueror. Here's the epitaph he wanted remembered.

Mark eight, 36. What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his own soul? Somebody wrote tongue in cheek. Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul?

No. The point is that this man failed to recognize he was mortal. There is a deceiving obnoxious factor in people who possess and pursue things. That they are removed from accountability, especially to God.

They are independent. They are very obnoxious because they fail to recognize they are mere mortal. The third failure in this fool's life is he failed to acknowledge God. Note the last part of this passage. Verse 21. God says so is the man, that is the fool.

So is the fool who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God. There's a French artist who painted a very interesting canvas piece. He read this passage of scripture and he decided to put it on canvas in oil. And so he painted away and he painted the picture of a man sitting behind a desk. And on the desk were bags of golden coins. Behind him was a long shelf. And on that shelf were many other bags of golden coins. And there was a window to his left. And you could see through the window and you saw a bumper crop.

Nothing but dark green fields. This man was sitting there with a rather smug look on his face. When the artist finished, he did something unusual. He said this doesn't portray it right. And he turned the canvas over and he painted the same picture again. Same man, same desk, same bags of gold, same harvest, same bumper crop through the window. But this time he painted it all overlaid with a thin coat of dust.

And one more thing was added. There was the shadowy figure of the death angel with his hand on his shoulder leaning forward with his lips pursed as if to say fool. Ladies and gentlemen, the grave danger of coveting is we become self oriented. We only see ourselves, our things, what we want. We fail to recognize our neighbor. We lose sight of the fact that at any moment we could be standing before God, that we are not immortal.

We will not live forever in this body. And those who are wrapped up in pursuing things fail to recognize a sovereign God who waves his hand in effect saying stop and look to me. In fact, what I want to do is apply this now in the rest of the passage. We've usually divided this chapter right down the middle and it hurts because we take it out of context. The next passage through the end of the chapter deals with what is basically termed anxiety, how to get over anxiousness.

It has nothing to do with anxiety. It has everything to do with overcoming covetousness. Look at the next verse, verse 22. And he said to his disciples, that is he gets them away from the crowd and he says now look, I want to give you the meat of what I just taught these people.

I want to apply it. He says, for this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life as to what you shall eat nor for your body as to what you shall put on. For life is more than food and the body than clothing. You know, as I read and reread and reread again this passage, two questions begin to form.

It's as if Jesus Christ has just given the instruction and now he pulls his disciples over and he says, look, I want to give you a test. I want to see if you are materialistic. I want you to see in yourselves whether or not you are greedy, whether or not you are covetous. He gives them some principles that I think we could form into two questions. I challenge all of us to take the test right now.

You're ready? Question number one. What's more important to you?

Getting more financially or growing up spiritually? Verse 24. Consider the ravens. They don't sow nor reap. They have no storeroom nor barn and yet God feeds them. How much more valuable you are than the birds and which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his lifespan?

Could be translated 18 inches to your height. They're not really sure how to translate that one little word that's span or life, however it is in your translation. And what a great illustration of how we ought to live with our spiritual growth in mind. How, how passionate are we to grow up spiritually in the Lord?

How often do we go to God and say, Lord, whatever it takes, mature me in the faith. That's the point here. In fact, let's keep reading and you'll see he refers to that mature growth. Verse 27.

Consider the lilies, how they grow. They neither toil nor spin, but I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so erased the grass in the field which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will he clothe you?

Note this. O men of little faith. See, what's important? Developing faith or my financial portfolio.

You see, that's the point. He is saying, I want to develop in you men, you believers. Faith in me. That supersedes any pursuit of anything.

I want you to get turned on to the fact that I can mature you if you will yield to me and take your eyes off that stuff and put them on me. Question number one was what's more important to you? Getting more financially or growing up spiritually? You want to go to question number two?

Let's do it. What concerns me most? Having money I can manage or having God manage me? Look at verse 29. Do not seek what you shall eat, what you shall drink, and do not keep worrying, for all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek. But your father knows that you need all these things. But seek for his kingdom. Don't be afraid, little flock, for your father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions.

Give to charity. Make yourselves purses which do not wear out an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. What really turns our crank? Is it having money in our hands to spend or living with the attitude of placing ourselves in the hands of God? That's the point. What do I give my time and my thought to?

How much I have to manage? I'm not alleviating the fact that you and I all have to struggle with making those ends meet. But does the thought ever occur to us that it isn't just that? It is allowing God to manage our lives.

That is the issue. It is pursuing not our kingdom, but his kingdom. Not our stuff, but the things that relate to glorifying and honoring God. Seeking first his kingdom.

Now admit it. Weren't some of the best times and aren't some of the best times in your life when you have been financially in need, having to depend on God? We don't want it, but when we've come through it, we think, man, did I ever learn something about God? That's why Spurgeon once wrote, we are at our spiritual best when we are shipwrecked on the island of God's sovereignty.

Man, I love that. I want you to take inventory just a moment. Go back into your mind, into your thinking. Go back in time. When did God reveal his hand? Was it when you had money to manage or was it when he was managing you?

It isn't hard for me to come up with a time of desperate need. My wife and I had been married for a week and a half and we found ourselves in the parking lot in a seminary in Detroit, Michigan. Hadn't even been accepted in the seminary yet. Never been there.

I was confident because of my grade point average, but because it was a small school and they were desperate for students that I could get in. We lived in a half a dozen different places, always looking for the cheapest place. I was a janitor cleaning bathrooms. My wife worked as a secretary and we were always looking for that cheaper place so that we could continue building my library and surviving. My last move, our last move was in a home, if you could call it that, in Detroit in the city limits, across the railroad tracks, just a block or two away from the Fisher Body Plant. That was really a classy neighborhood to live in. It's the place where you would lock your doors as soon as the sun set and the stench was always in the air.

We would dust, Marshall would dust every day because that Fisher Body Plant would just shoot these polluted air into the sky. We had a habit, the guys that I went to school with, very small school, we were very close. So we scraped together our pennies, we'd get a van, put in together for the gas and we drive two hours to Grand Rapids and I'll never forget the day. I think we had about 50 bucks and I was going to go down there and in a matter of 10 minutes, I had my arms full with that $50 worth. And as I was leaving, it was Baker Book House. My eyes fell on a set that I'd been coveting after for a long time, but I didn't have any money. But my friend had a credit card, $150. That's how much our rent was, by the way, in that house. I thought all the way back to Detroit, how am I going to tell Marsha?

I'm history. Got in there and told her about that and bless her heart, never a complaint. And I got those books out of the boxes and was just sitting there and the thought occurred to me, rent was due and now we didn't have the money for rent.

Now I'm not justifying that purchase, so don't go ahead and do something crazy like that, all right? That night, got a phone call. Our landlord was a believer and he said, hey, Stephen, this past month, God has really been good to my wife and I.

We don't want you to pay the rent this month. My first thought was, man, I should have bought $300 worth of books. Oh, you have a little faith. One of the most exciting times was that point of abandonment and times in your life just go back. You get caught up in the here and now and what you're trying to get.

Just stop a second, just hold it. What have the most exciting spiritual moments in your life been? When you've had extra or when you've needed to depend on God, that is when He has evidenced His hand.

That's the point. Don't covet possessions. I'll take care of you. Ladies and gentlemen, it is time we stopped asking more from God and we started asking more of God. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen's calling today's lesson, One Nation Under Greed. This was the 11th and final lesson in a series on the Ten Commandments called Down from Sinai. You can go online and listen anytime. Our address is wisdomonline.org and you'll find this and every other series on that site. When we return next time, we'll have a series for you from the Book of Judges. Join us for that next time here on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-17 11:31:51 / 2023-03-17 11:42:13 / 10

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