An old saying goes something like this: “The more things you have, the more they have you.” Have we become possessed by possessions, especially us who live in affluent societies? There’s a tension between the desires of the heart and the lust of the flesh. The latter is more about self-gratification and is by far less fulfilling than true desires birthed in our hearts by God. Furthermore, the lust of the flesh causes a war inside, which at times, bleeds into relationships with others.
James 4:1-3 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Here’s a simple recipe to wreck some families. Put money and possessions in the middle of the members. Have you seen a family torn apart over an inheritance? Perhaps, you’ve been one of the unfortunates who have been caught in one those squabbles over who gets what, or even worse. Of course, another way to put stress on relationships is borrowing money from each other. On a side note, a way to avoid this is simply not lend any; rather, give it away if have you the ability. Stating the obvious: pray about it first.
If you find jealousy or envy cropping up over what someone has; if you find yourself hanging onto things for dear life; if you find it difficult to say, “Yes, Lord” because of the fear of loss or how people may see you, or if you get angry at the thought of losing your possessions, you may be possessed by the things of the world. What exactly are the things of the world? The answer is found in 1 John.
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever(1 John 2:15-17). In short: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are the things of the world.
Jesus tells us these things choke out the Word. Matthew 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the Word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful (see also Matthew 13:7; Mark 4:7,18-20; Luke 8:7,14).
Is it wrong to possess things? Generally, no; however, filtering things through lust and pride is problematic. Our call is being content in whatever state we find ourselves (Philippians 4:11-13). That doesn’t mean we become complacent about our condition, nor say we should never possess anything. Even Paul said he knew what was to have much and to have little. Either way, he learned to be content in whatever condition he found himself. Remember, this earth is temporary -everything is going to burn. The things of this world hold no eternal value.
Obviously, the cure to jealousy and envy is love. Submission is another one. Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. If Holy Spirit has you, the world cannot!
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