33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. 35 Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. (Psalm 119:33–36, NKJV)
Living by faith is not a blind leap in the dark. Faith is the rationale response of the heart that longs for God, His ways, and His blessings. Note this as the psalmist implores God to teach him the path of divine statues, and he will keep them (v. 33). He pleads for an understanding of God’s law so that he may keep it with a heart that is enlarged and completely devoted to God (v. 34; Psa. 119:32). He yearns for the discipline that comes with divine instruction so that he will walk on the path of obedience (v. 35). He obeys the commands of God with delight because his heart is full of the love of God, not greed for plunder (v. 36). Like the psalmist, let us pray for understanding to keep God’s word with our whole heart (Col. 1:9-11). Obeying the gospel from the heart freed us from sin’s slavery (Rom. 6:17-18). Now, let us keep on learning and living the commands of God with our whole hearts “to the end” (v. 33). Problems of sin arise when we no longer want God to teach us. The heart hardens against the way of His statutes. The path of His commands is no longer delightful. If this is where your heart and life are, then repent (change your heart) and return to the delight of obeying God with your whole heart.
18 Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. 19 As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. 20 For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart. (Ecclesiastes 5:18–20, NKJV)
The human lot in life is labor. Solomon sees work as a blessing from God, not a burdensome punishment. “It is good and fitting” to work and to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor (v. 18). Solomon sees the increased fruit of labor (“riches and wealth”) as a heritage in which a person can rejoice (v. 19). God designed work to keep us busy as we produce the wherewithal to provide for ourselves and others (v. 20; Eph. 4:28; 1 Thess. 4:11-12; 1 Tim. 5:8). But beware. The temptation to love money is strong – Loving money leads to ruin (1 Tim. 6:9-10). Do not turn labor’s increase into the covetous endeavor and purpose of your life. Wealth does not define your life’s value and purpose (Lk. 12:15). To make that mistake (and to leave God’s will out of your life) is tragically foolish (Lk. 12:16-21). Keep a contented outlook on labor and its reward. Work diligently. Trust God (not riches), be “rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share” (1 Tim. 6:6-8, 17-19).
20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ 21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20–21, NKJV)
What have you provided for yourself and for others when your life comes to an end? The legacy we leave ought to be measurable by far more important things than silver and gold. Faith, integrity, goodness, and kindness should shape our legacy. There is nothing wrong with leaving an inheritance of properties and possessions to our descendants. But there is something very wrong with covetousness. Jesus warned, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12:15). He made it clear that when one’s primary concern and goal is earthly possessions, those very things valued the most will always disappoint when death comes. We must be “rich toward God” and lay up heavenly treasures (Matt. 6:19-21). That begins by being saved by grace through faith in obedience to apostolic commandments (read Acts 2:37-40). It continues by living by faith, doing God’s will, and setting our mind on things above (Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:1-4). Look around you. Everything you see will be left to someone else when your spirit returns to God (Eccl. 12:7). So be sure your treasures are in heaven, not on this earth. Of what does your life consist? What will be your legacy?
13 Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. 14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13–14, NKJV)
Jerusalem and Judah were headed for destruction in the days of Jeremiah. Covetous hearts – greedy for power and wealth – guided both prophet and priest to speak falsely to a population that loved to have it so. These religious charlatans “healed” the spiritual ailments of the people with superficial dressings. They proclaimed “peace, peace,” even though hostility toward God and men ruled the day. Even now, religious leaders, with many followers, preach messages that fail to heal men’s soul – even as those souls rush headlong toward eternal ruin. Messages of peace that tolerate immorality are proclaimed. “Peace” is advanced at the expense of divine truth. (Indeed, evil is called good, and good is called evil, Isaiah 5:20.) Jeremiah’s warning remains relevant, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jer. 6:16). No peace can exist where sin reigns. Changing its definitions and ignoring its reality reveals hearts that are greedy for selfish gains, not selfless hearts devoted to the Almighty.
36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. 37 Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way. 38 Establish Your word to Your servant, who is devoted to fearing You. (Psalm 119:36–38, NKJV)
God’s word is the treasure upon which we must set our hearts. Longing for things that can never satisfy our souls is futile. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and by it many souls are destroyed (1 Timothy 6:10). The world sets many things before our eyes to entice us to devote our hearts to worthless things instead of fearing God with full devotion. For example, pornography is wreaking havoc upon our society. It is a monetary driver on the internet, and it is being normalized by the entertainment industry. Young people are watching it in droves, and their concepts of moral purity are being drastically distorted. We must turn our eyes away from such defiling things by embedding God’s word into our hearts. God’s word says do not look lustfully with our eyes (Job 31:1; Matthew 5:28; 1 John 2:16). We must devote ourselves to fearing God instead of indulging the flesh. Lord, “revive me in Your way” and lead me not into temptation.
16 And this also is a severe evil— Just exactly as he came, so shall he go. And what profit has he who has labored for the wind? 17 All his days he also eats in darkness, and he has much sorrow and sickness and anger. (Ecclesiastes 5:16–17, NKJV)
Laboring for the wind. That is what Solomon said a person does who hoards wealth. He should know; he was extremely wealthy (Ecclesiastes 2:8). He observed that riches never satisfy the soul, yet they certainly increase problems (Ecclesiastes 5:10-12). Solomon observed how misfortune takes away the miser’s storehouse (5:13-14). Like Solomon, you will not take one bit of your earthly wealth with you when you die (5:15). Why then should you make the abundance of earthly riches your motive and aim in life? It is truly tragic to watch the money-driven person trying to catch the wind, deceived in the hope that by tearing down his barns and building bigger ones, his soul’s longing for contentment will be satisfied (Lk. 12:18-21). Genuine contentment comes from being “rich toward God,” regardless of the amount of money and things one possesses (Luke 12:21-23, 31; Hebrews 13:5). Be rich toward God. That perspective enables you to lay up treasure in heaven (Matthew. 6:19-21). “He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage” (Proverbs 11:28).
22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. 23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.” (Luke 12:22–23, NKJV)
Jesus had just warned against covetousness, by saying that “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Luke 12:15). In contrast to materialism’s greed (which prevents being rich toward God, Luke 12:21), disciples of Christ avoid the distracting cares of this life. While we provide for ourselves and others, our faith rests in God, who supplies our material needs. We are tempted to confuse our wants with our needs. Jesus reminds us not to do so. By first seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness, our faith rests in God, not in ourselves. By doing so, we are assured that our Father in heaven will provide what we need in this life (Matthew 6:33-34). Do not be deterred from your goal of heaven by putting the material things of life before doing the will of God. Since God cares for our lives and bodies, He will certainly provide our food and clothing. Keep your faith in God, and focus on heavenly things first.
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (Ephesians 5:1–3, NKJV)
There are repeated warnings in the Scriptures of falling into sexual sins. Here, being imitators of God and walking in sacrificial love are the preventative measures we take to avoid the moral defilement of “fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness.” Ironically, the world often calls fornication, “love,” as millions upon millions commit this sin in the name of “love.” Sexual uncleanness occurs outside of God-approved marriage, and is the fruit of covetousness (Heb. 13:4; cf. Exo. 20:17). These sins are “not even to be named” among Christians. R. C. H. Lenski correctly explains this to mean that “such vices are to be so far removed from us that even an intimation or a suspicion of their presence among us should not occur” (The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians, p. 596). Christians are not immune to sexual temptations; but, we must resist them and reject them whenever they come (1 Pet. 5:8-9). “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). Then, we can be “an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
25 The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. 26 He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare. (Proverbs 21:25–26, NKJV)
The lazy person is not righteous. Laziness leads to unfulfilled desires culminating in death. Rather than labor to satisfy one’s daily needs, being lazy leads to the additional sins of covetousness and greed. Consumed by longing for that which he does not have (and will not work for), the lazy person remains unsatisfied. The righteous person, on the other hand, is industrious and supplies his needs. By diligent labor he has more than enough for himself. He shares with others instead of greedily hoarding his goods. Do not be lazy; it only leads to want, greedy desire and death. Instead, thank the Lord for the work you have to do. Do your work with gladness, serving the Lord and helping others (Col. 3:23).