Beware of Greed!

(a meditation on Luke 12:13-21)

Setting the Context

The Christian life is like a journey. There are road signs we need to observe and follow. Otherwise we will be in danger of accident or arrest. As followers of Jesus Christ, there are certain danger signs we need to be particularly aware of. Once ignored these danger signs can bring fatal destruction in our lives as believers.

One of these danger signs is greed or covetousness. The modern term is closely related to materialism. Sometimes we think that only rich people struggle with this problem. But greed is universal. It comes from the heart of every man (cf. Mk 7:20-23), young or old, rich or poor. It enslaves everyone whose ultimate purpose in life is to accumulate things of this world.

Once we measure success or blessed life by the number of material things we possess, by the income we receive, by the clothes we wear, by the cars we drive or by the size of our houses, greed has crept into our hearts.

The good news is, Christ has defeated the power of greed at the cross. He nailed it there. Being united with Christ by faith, we also had been set free from the power of greed. But as a power, as a master who wants to control our heart, we still struggle against it.

Many people today use the name of Christ in order to get rich. There are some people we know who are able to build big houses, even kingdom, using the name of Christ. They look very religious. They are well known. However their lives do not reflect Christ in His self-sacrificing love, compassion, kindness, humility and real concern for others.

Oftentimes these religious men use and manipulate people to achieve their personal agenda. Such selfish people are not worthy to be called Christ’s disciples. They may profess to be His followers but their lives betray their profession. Beware of such people!

In Luke 12, Christ is instructing His disciples to watch out for few things. First, He calls His disciples’ attention to the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. He compared their hypocrisy to that of the yeast. Why yeast? Yeast is a baking material. A small amount of it can cause a small dough of flour to rise up to several times its original size.

In Scripture yeast is almost always a symbol of evil (cf. 1 Cor 5:6-7). This is why Jesus told His disciples to be on their guard against the ‘hypocrisy’ of the Pharisees. They appear to be godly but deep within they are burning with pride and envy. They seem to follow Christ but their intention was to kill Him and to persecute His followers.

Christ is a threat to their cause and religion. This explains why Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, was so zealous in persecuting the church. This is something scary! So Jesus warns them. But He also said not to be afraid for God the Holy Spirit will take care of them. Trusting Him is all they need to do.

There is real danger in following Christ wholeheartedly. This makes Christianity a radical religion. If you follow Christ consider yourself to be dead. If you want to stand for God's truth and live for the sake of the gospel you will be persecuted. It can cost your life. Remember John Huss? Remember Guido de Bres and many others who stood for Christ and the Christian faith? They professed and lived out their faith in Christ in the hands of their enemies.

Remember our Lord Jesus Himself. He suffered the greatest injustice ever committed by man for the truth of the gospel. He, the sinless Son of God, was unjustly condemned as a worse criminal. Are you willing to suffer the same for the sake of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and for His gospel?

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