Life Does Not Consist

The following incident occurred to Jesus during His ministry.  Luke 12:13-15 “Then one from the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.’  But He said to him, ‘Man, who made Me a judge or an arbitrator over you?’   And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’”  The word covetousness literally means to have a desire to have more – more things, more possessions.   The one from the crowd seemed to have a simple, just request.  Apparently his brother had taken all of the father’s inheritance and was not sharing it.  He was obviously greatly troubled that his brother was not sharing the family possessions. He thought that Jesus, being an honest, just teacher could use His influence to convince the brother to share as he should.  But Jesus did not want to be a judge in such matters.  Jesus reminds us to beware of covetousness.  The tenth commandment given to the Israelites is found in Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”  We don’t have to desire something that belongs to our neighbor for it to be wrong.  The strong desire for more is covetousness.  Then Jesus makes an important statement:  “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

Many people think that they will be happy when they finally have the things that they have set their heart upon to possess.  To the rich man, things that he desires might be businesses or mansions or luxury cars.  To a poor man, it would be something much less.  But rich or poor, we can all be guilty of thinking that we will be happy when we have certain possessions.  Think about it – what do you desire to have?  Whatever it is, realize that things will not bring you lasting happiness.  After you obtain your desired possession, soon the newness disappears and the possession no longer makes you happy as it did before.  Then you might set your heart on something else that you think will make you happy.  Even if you have great possessions, they won’t really give you lasting happiness.  Many rich people are miserable.  And when you die, you can take none of your possessions with you.  Life does not consist in the abundance of the things that you possess. 

So what gives purpose and meaning to life and brings lasting happiness?  In addition to desiring possessions, people have gone after many different things in their attempt to find happiness and meaning in their life.  Some put all of their energy into their work to succeed and get promotions.  Some seek after pleasure or spend their time playing games.  Some give their energy to finding and consuming food and drink.  Some seek to gain a position of importance that others will respect them.  Some seek to be the best in some area that others would consider them to be an expert.  Some live through their children, doing what they can to make them succeed.  The list can go on and on.  People have tried many things to find happiness and put meaning into their life.  But life does not consist in any of these things.

King Solomon was very rich and had the power and the time to search for what is meaningful in life.  He wrote the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes that describes his search.  He set his heart to know wisdom but found it to be a grasping for the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:17).  He next tried mirth and pleasure but found them to be vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:1).   He made great works – houses, vineyards, gardens, orchards, and more.  He had great possessions and riches.  Whatever his eyes desired, he did not keep from them.  Yet he found this all to be vanity and grasping for the wind (Ecclesiastes 2:11).  I encourage you to read the book of Ecclesiastes and see all that Solomon tried and found to be vanity.  In the end, he made his conclusion.  Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:  Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

When one searches for meaning in life, he may make the mistake of thinking that this life is what it is all about.  That is why more possessions seem to be important.  But the real truth is that this life is merely preparation for the life that is to come.  Our faith is that there is life after death.  Jesus gave proof to that by His resurrection from the dead; as He was resurrected, so will we be resurrected.  1 Corinthians 15:20-23 “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

Jesus showed the way to what is really important in life.  Matthew 16:24-27 “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.’” Deny yourself now.  Don’t attempt to save your life for what you can enjoy and gain here.  Instead lose your life for the sake of Christ.  Then when Jesus comes back, He will reward you for your works.

My encouragement to you is to find the real meaning of life.  This life is not what it is all about.  Prepare for the life that is to come.