Luke 12: Beware of All Greed!

I think there maybe no more timely verses for this world than these from today’s reading:

Watch out and beware of all greed!  Your life doesn’t consist of the sum total of your possessions. . . . So don’t go hunting about for what to eat or what to drink, and don’t be anxious.  The nations of the world go searching for all that stuff, and your father knows you need it.  This is what you should search for: God’s kingdom!  Then all the rest will be given you as well. (12:15, 29-32)

I don’t know a modern American Christian for whom greed and anxiety over money is not a temptation at least potentially.  That is what comes when you live in a culture focused on money and materialism.

I don’t think there are any great secrets to conquering greed, at least not in our context (maybe you know one?).  I only conclude that with prayer and accountability we have to raise this struggle to the conscious level and fight it aggressively.  Maybe we ask ourselves why we are purchasing what we do.  Maybe we regularly deny ourselves certain intended purchases and extravagances.  I know spending time in environments far less affluent helps considerably.  So too does the practice of sacrificial giving to others.  Another big help is what Jesus says here.  Get busy trying to advance God’s kingdom and little by little, over a lifetime maybe, the trinkets of this world become less attractive.  At least that is what I am telling myself.

How do you fight greed, anxiety about money, and the temptation to be materialistic?

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5 thoughts on “Luke 12: Beware of All Greed!

  1. Umm Muhamamd

    Taming our souls is quite tough. Some beautiful insights that Islam gives:

    {The life of this world is nothing more than mere jest and play, and indeed, the life of the hereafter is the true life if only but knew.} (al ankabut:64)

    {Wealth and children are the delight of the life of this world, and the ever remaining righteous acts are better with your Lord in reward and a better hope.} (al Kahf: 46)

    {O You who believe! Indeed the promise of Allah is true, so do not become deceived by the life of the world, do not let delusion deceive you from Allah.} (Al Rum: 10)

    {And [also for] those who were settled in al-Madinah and [adopted] the faith before them. They love those who emigrated to them and find not any want in their breasts of what the emigrants were given but give [them] preference over themselves, even though they are in privation. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.} (Al-Hashr: 9)

    Sahl bin Sa’d al Sa’idi narrated, “A man came to the Messenger of Allah and inquired: “O Messenger of Allah! Guide me to a deed that, if I do it, Allah will love me and the people will love me as well.” He (saw) said, “Have renunciation in the world: Allah will love you; have renunciation from what is in the hands of the people: they will love you.” (Ibn Majah)

    A teacher explained the above hadith as follows:

    Dunya / This world which is condemned in the Qur’an and Hadith is not the dunya which is a necessity to life and living i.e. a house for shelter, a car for transport and even savings for a rainy day. In fact a man may be lord over a whole sultanate. Wealth earned and spent in a halal way and which does not enter the heart is permissible.

    For example, a person has earned a large amount of money, however unwittingly, he has earned it in an unlawful way. When told by a scholar that this money is impermissible for him, he will not use it and he has abstained from the world. On the other hand a poor person amasses only 5 pounds but in an unlawful way and keeps it, is a person of the world.

    Therefore as long as the dunya remains in the pocket or in a bank account or safe and does not enter the heart of a person, then he has renounced the world.

    Striving for the dunya in a permissible way is allowed. Once non-permissible methods of attainment are adopted, then it is the dunya. Renouncement is not about abandoning the family and the earning of lawful wealth in favour of living in a cave. A boat is fine as long as it remains on the water. As soon as the water enters the boat, it will sink. Therefore earn the dunya and live it but don’t let it enter the heart or destruction will follow.

    If you wish to become beloved to people then do not crave for what they have

    If Allah grants someone wealth, fame, name etc. then congrats to them. It is when we desire for ourselves what belongs to others that jealousy, anger, conniving, fighting etc. will follow. Be content with what you have and people will be comfortable and happy with you and will love you.

    Umm Muhammad

    • “Renouncement is not about abandoning the family and the earning of lawful wealth in favour of living in a cave. A boat is fine as long as it remains on the water. As soon as the water enters the boat, it will sink. Therefore earn the dunya and live it but dont let it enter the heart or destruction will follow.”

      I think Luke’s Jesus would say wealth has an insidious way of creeping into our hearts even when we are not trying, so we must be aware of money itself. I think we will see that again in a famous story in Luke 18 a week from now. More next Friday.

      Love the analogy with the boat and water by the way.

  2. Umm Muhamamd

    True that wealth has an insidious way…but we can’t do away with it completely either. The whole of the explanation is from a teacher and not from me.

    This is what you should search for: God’s kingdom! Then all the rest will be given you as well.

    This happens and I have seen it with my own eyes, not in my life but in another Muslim’s life. And you see it in the early Muslims’ life. When someone cares nothing for the pleasures of this world and they enter into serving Allah and His deen, Allah gives them sustenance from sources that they wouldn’t imagine.

    The above saying from Luke is also resonated in this verse of the Quran:

    {Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient.}
    (24: 55)

    All of the above is what a man may covet and the above verse says, men don’t have to strive to achieve it really, but Allah will grant it to them provided they remain steadfast by believing in Him and serving Him and calling other people to Him. And that’s my understanding of God’s kingdom. 🙂

    Regards Umm Muhamamd

    P.S: Hopefully I will have something relevant for your other posts too God Willing. May Allah guide us all too the straight path. ameen

  3. Pingback: Why Only Winners Count. « Cite Simon

  4. “Steep yourself in God-reality.” There it is! This is the issue. For most of us, the spiritual is simply nowhere as real to us as the physical. So maybe all we can do is try to keep the flow of spiritual realities going in our life. Stay connected. Keep talking and praying. Keep reading. Fix our eyes of things above.

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