T H E K I N G ' S B U S I N E S S
Golden Text: “Thou shalt not covet” (Ex. 20:17). Devotional Reading: Prov. 22:22-28. Outline and Exposition I. T he C ommand (E x . 20:17) T HE COMMAND against covetous ness is the truth used by Paul in his Epistle to the Romans to expose his own inner sinfulness and even his ignorance of what sin is. But for this command, he says, he would never have known that cov eting was sin (cf. Rom. 7 ). So natural is it for man to covet that he does not even recognize covetousness as being sinful at all. Repeatedly the Israelites were warned against coveting. Later, the writers of the New Testament, both in the Gospels and Epistles, referred to it, placing it in the same .category as idolatry (cf. Deut. 5:21; Micah 2:2; Hab. 2:9; Acts 20:33; Rom. 7: 7; Eph. 5:3, 5; Heb. 13:5). II. T he T rue R iches (L k . 12:13-21) When one who evidently desired to share in an inheritance came and asked Jesus to arbitrate between his brother and himself, the Lord said that His business was not to sit in judgment upon such matters. Then our Lord uttered the warning against covet ousness and amplified it by pointing out that the abundance of things possessed did not constitute a man’s life. Continuing, He uttered the parable of the rich farmer. There is no word here of condemnation be cause this man amassed a great fortune. The man is credited with being a thrifty, hard-working, careful farmer. The point in the parable is that this man had no thought for the next world. All his attention was upon this present world and the enjoyment he could get out of it He forgot he had a soul and spirit to exist eter nally, and that his soul and spirit could not be satisfied with material things. Then our Lord applied the parable by saying that every one is a fool who is rich in this life and is not rich toward God. The folly of men is revealed when they say they admire Jesus and His teachings, and profess to believe that the wrongs of this world would all be righted if those teach ings were generally adopted, and when they go on in the path traveled by this rich fool, laying up treasures upon earth and giving no thought to the treasures beyond. Let us remember, however, when teaching this lesson, that there is no hint in it of what some profess to believe, that Jesus taught, “Cursed are ye rich and blessed are ye poor." Covetousness manifests itself along mate rial lines, not spiritual. But there is a spir- BLACKBOARD LESSON
itual desire—a strong yearning to possess— which every Christian should manifest Paul, for example, forsook all he had, counting it as refuse, that he might acquire the true riches, or, in his own words, "that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3 :8 ). The Holy Spirit enlarges on this thought of spiritual riches when He exhorts believers to “seek those things which áre above” (Col. 3-1), and to "set your affections upon” (Col. 3: 2) those things. Only by having the heart’s affections set upon heavenly things will the natural covetousness of the old nature be defeated. III. T h e D anger o f M oney (1 Tim. 6:6-10) Contentment comes only with godliness. It is a by-product of "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5: 1). The Bible contains many incidents that reveal the absence of contentment on the part of those who think of material things as the highest good. Gehazi would take the talent of silver from Naaman, but he got Naaman’s leprosy with it (2 Ki. 5:27). Judas would take thirty pieces of silver to betray the Lord, but he went to a suicide’s grave (Matt. 27:5). Simon Magus thought money could buy the gift of God, but he found he was in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of Iniquity (Acts 8:23). The ac cusation of Micah was that “the prophets . . . divine for money” (Micah 3:11) and lost both their place and nation. Felix “hoped that money should have been given him” (Acts 24:26), and he lost his oppor tunity for salvation. W e must remember that it is “the love of money” that is the deadly menace. Let Christians, "having food and raiment, . . . be content” (1 Tim. 6:8) and seek after godliness and heavenly riches. Points and Problems 1. "Thou shalt not covet" (Ex. 20:17). This is the last of the Ten Commandments, but it is not the least in importance. For the sin of coveting leads inevitably to all the other sins covered by the Table. To covet that which does not belong to us may lead to false witness, to theft, to adultery, and to murder. 2. "Covet." In the New Testament the Holy Spirit puts the sin of covetousness in the same category with those sins which are of the very lowest character. It is one of the sins for which the Apostle Paul calls upon the church to impose the penalty of excommunication. "If any man that is call ed a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one, no, not to ea t. . . Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor. 5:11-13). 3. “Man, who made me a judge or a d i vider over you?" (Lk. 12:14). This word of our Lord’s has sometimes been used in an attempt to show that His kingdom is wholly a spiritual affair, having nothing to do with material and temporal matters. But such an interpretation of the passage would contra dict other parts of the very chapter in which it occurs. See verse 31: “Seek ye the king dom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” It will help us to under-
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