Setting Life’s Priorities

MEMORY SELECTION: “Beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” —Luke 12:15

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Exodus 20:15,17; Luke 12:15-21; Matthew 6:25-33

THROUGHOUT man’s history the world’s wealth has been unevenly divided between the “haves” and the “have nots.” This uneven distribution has caused temptations in both classes: in the rich because they have so much, and in the poor because they have so little. In today’s world we are surrounded by wealth and affluence, and earthly possessions seem to play a dominant role in everyday life. Now, more than ever, it is of utmost importance that the child of God heed the admonition in our memory selection to “beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

The first part of our lesson considers Exodus 20:15,17, which is a portion of the Ten Commandments. It reads; “Thou shalt not steal. … Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.” There are many motives that lead to covetousness, as we are reminded by these words, whether it is a matter of direct stealing of another person’s possessions or whether it represents what takes place in the heart of the individual. The consecrated Christian would not steal another man’s goods. His depth of dedication to God has taken him far beyond that point. However, the Lord’s people should examine their hearts continually to beware of all filthiness of the flesh, even as our Master admonished.

The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:15-21) is directed against those who covet wealth. We are told about a certain rich man whose harvest was plentiful. He built barns, and later larger barns, to house his abundant wealth. The account tells us that this man came to a point in his life where he was satisfied with his earthly possessions and said (Luke 12:19): “I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” The lesson in the parable centers around the selfish nature of the rich man. He was totally lacking in gratitude toward his Creator, a realization of his obligations toward others, and a sense of establishing definite priorities in his own life. He was a lover of pleasure and ease; and the security that his earthly possessions provided was the limit of his outlook on life.

We are reminded of the Apostle James’ words in respect to the wrong of accumulating earthly possessions. (Jas. 5:1-6) Worldly riches are corruptible: garments become moth eaten, gold and silver may become cankered and full of rust, and there is no security in any of these treasures that are heaped together for the last days—especially when they have been gathered by fraud.

Jesus taught an important lesson (selected scriptural reading, Matt. 6:25-33) in connection with our need to establish priorities in our lives. He said (vs. 25), “Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?”

The sense in which our Lord spoke these words, and the two examples of the fowls of the air and the lilies of the field in the subsequent passages stress the manner in which the footstep follower of the Master should conduct his life. The Christian should not expend anxious care and thought in respect to future matters over which he has no control. To the best of his ability he should arrange his affairs in such a way that he will not be a burden upon others.

The Master’s references to the fowls of the air which do not gather grain into barns and yet are fed, or of the lilies of the field which do not spin and yet are clothed do not teach that we should be careless. No, we learn from other scriptures (Eph. 4:28) that the Lord’s people should labor with their hands, that they may have to give to those who may be in need. Nothing in the way of carelessness is intended in any of Jesus’ teachings. We believe that the lesson teaches confidence and faith in God’s infinite ability to bless, guide, and overrule in all of life’s affairs—especially in connection with his consecrated children.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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