Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Covetousness in Disguise

“The pastor really needs to be more humble about the car he drives. He should be setting an example of good stewardship. Instead of flaunting his wealth.”

How many of you have heard these words? Maybe you’ve contributed to a conversation where this topic has come up. We have the right to call the pastor out on the expensive car he drives, don’t we? I mean we do pay his salary, after all.

I’ve heard variations of this kind of criticism spoken about the most affluent members of the church congregation.

“The Joneses just paid $3.4 Million for that five bedroom eyesore on the corner of Magnolia and Jefferson. If they gave one tenth of their yearly salary to African missions they could feed the people in four villages for 50 years.”

We roll our eyes at the greeter’s new red dress and decide she should strive to be more welcoming and less distracting. We gawk at the new diamond ring a well-known doctor gave his wife as they could have donated the money they spent on the oversized rock to cancer research. We call the father who gives his son a new Mustang on his 16th birthday “over-indulgent”.

When we make these kinds of comments and judgment calls, we are revealing far more about ourselves than about the person we’re trying to expose. We are making a weak attempt to disguise our covetousness with religiosity.

But wait! Surely we’re NOT covetous. We are merely showing great love and concern for our rich brothers and sisters and we want to spare them from trouble. Proverbs 28:27
 says, He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses. We would hate to see curses rain down on our good friends.

In Matthew 19:21 
Jesus says, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. We’re not jealous! We’re looking’ out for their heavenly treasure…yeah, that’s it.

We are so not perfect. Jealousy, envy, covetousness—these traits are a part of our human nature. We claim to be Christ-like while at the same time we are extremely judgmental and petty.

There may very well be people in your church family who flaunt their prosperity. Pointing our sanctimonious finger at their Jimmy Choo shoes and Calvin Klein duds won’t soften their heart.

Get of the pew of false humility and religiosity. Get of the pew!


  1. This is a good post. You know it's not the false humility that I deal with, it's just plain old lack of humility and jealousy. After 15 years in ministry I know that I'm not in it for the money, but at times I wrestle with the tension and the growing financial gap between the "have"(them) and the "have not"(me).

    I have also learned, that just because someone has the appearance of wealth does not mean that they are rich and we should automatically covet their financial situation. Sometimes it is all an illusion.

    Thanks for the challenge.

    The Ordained Barista

  2. Thanks for your kind words.

    BTW...I LOVE coffee. Love your blog.