The Christmas Challenge is to read through the 24 chapters in the Gospel of Luke one chapter a day during the month of December – finishing this historical account of the life of Jesus just in time for Christmas. Today’s reading is Luke 12.
Despite the cries of “separation of church and state,” there is in our country, a national religion. It transcends political parties and crosses social, economic, and racial boundaries. It is not even bound by creed or denomination. Its worship is not limited to a particular day, nor is it confined to the walls of any building. Have you guessed what it is? It is the Religion of Consumerism, and it is the national religion of America.
It has its temples in the malls, stores, and shopping centers. It has its priests, the marketers, advertisement executives, and salesmen. Its missionaries are seen on T.V., heard on radio, and seen on every billboard. Its gospel is, “You need it! You deserve it!, and You can pay for it later!”
Its followers are filled with the spirit of covetousness, and they worship the god of “self” manifested in the trinity of me, myself, and mine. It’s national holiday may very well be the Christmas season!
Covetousness is such a grievous sin because it is a sin against God and man. It puts me on the throne of my life over God and neighbor. In doing so, it breaks the two fundamental commands that are expressed by the Ten: Love God and Love your neighbor.
This is the fundamental struggle within all of us. Covetousness entraps us with three big lies:
#1 – Everyone wants stuff, so it must be all right to want.
#2 – When you get what you want, it quenches your craving.
#3 – Wanting stuff is just my competitive urge to get ahead of my neighbor.
The truth is “Covetousness is attributing happiness, satisfaction, and contentment to someone or something else other than God.”
Contentment is the opposite and enemy of covetousness. So, how can I have contentment in a world that is increasingly covetous?
Only the gracious gifts of God can satisfy our deepest needs, desires, and longings. The greatest gift of all was Jesus Christ Himself!
The best way to divert our attention from what we don’t have but think we should? Focus on meeting the needs of someone else. Never do we look like our Heavenly Father more than when we are magnifying His grace to us by modeling it to others.
One of the most effective inoculations against temptation is thankfulness. Sin’s offers of “better” are much less convincing when I’m mindful of the “good and perfect” gifts I already have from God.
There is an old story about a Puritan sitting down to his meager meal of bread and water. He bowed his head to give thanks and said, “All this, and Jesus too.”
When we gather around the Christmas tree to open our presents this year, let’s not forget to say, “All this. And Jesus too.”