“How is thankfulness the solution for covetousness?”
This question was raised yesterday by Ryan Cummings in a sermon we heard at the Manslick Road Church in Louisville, Kentucky. It was a unique look at both the problem and solution we face in our hyper-commercialized culture.
This Thurdasy we will enjoy our annual Thanksgiving holiday in America, which began in 1621 after the colonists survived the rough first year in the New World and Governor William Bradford proclaimed “a day of Thanksgiving,”
For decades the holiday remained untouched by commercialization. However, more and more stores are open on Thursday. Then people are preparing for shopping bargains on Black Friday, small business Saturday and cyber-Monday. Of course, Christmas soon follows and we are caught up in the rush of shopping for more stuff.
Jesus’ warning is still very real and relevant. “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12:15).
Covetousness is a serious sin that the Bible says ought to be “put to death.” Actually, “covetousness is idolatry.”(Col. 3:5) Ryan pointed out that covetousness is a “failure to trust in the Lord’ (Ps 115:4-11). Covetousness “seeks fulfillment beyond God.”
Covetousness expresses itself in various ways depending on our carnal enticements. It may be an inordinate desire for a bigger home, a new car or a better boat. It may be evidenced in lusts for power. Pleasure. Prestige. Or position. Of course, none of these are intrinsically wrong. But become sinful when the pursuit is driven by impure motives.
Covetousness is greed. And greed is not good. Contrary to what our culture encourages.
Jesus came to give us life–“life in all its fullness” (Jn 10:10). Yet the world advertises that fullness is found in material possessions. Conspicuous consumption. And fleshly pleasurable pursuits.
These earthly influences lead us away from God. Away from those qualities that Paul says we ought to clothe ourselves with. Compassion. Kindness. Humility. Meekness. Patience. Forbearance. Forgiveness. And, divine love. (Col. 3:12-14).
The solution to covetousness, Ryan observed, is found in these two words: “be thankful” (Col. 3:15). Robertson says it means to “keep on becoming thankful.” It is continuous in nature. Not a one-time act.
The Greek word for “thankful” is an adjective that contains the word “grace” (charis). Vine declares it primarily means “gracious” or “agreeable.” Thayer says it means “mindful of favors” or “grateful.”
Ryan opined that “thankfulness comes from God’s grace.” Furthermore, covetous people “fail to grasp God’s grace, so they become idolaters.” When we are truly thankful, we are filled with God’s grace.
The 19th-century British preacher John Henry Jowett was right when he wrote, “Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.”
Indeed as The ancient Roman orator and philosopher, Cicero expressed it, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.”
A truly thankful heart is rooted in God’s grace and expresses gratitude to Him. Shows appreciation to others. And is genuinely humbled to experience Divine favor.
Today, this week, this Thanksgiving Day and throughout this season, think about God’s graciousness. Be filled with grace. Shun greed. And show gratitude.
The result will surpass the most bountiful Thanksgiving dinner. In the words of the Scottish author John Ross Macduff, “Cultivate the thankful spirit. It will be to you a perpetual feast.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman