It will do us well to take caution when we see the word “beware”. Beware – snake infested area – would alert you to be very cautious, or even avoid the area. Beware speaks of dangers not readily perceived. A “beware of Dog” sign in someone’s yard would make you think twice before entering the yard, even if no evidence of the dog were present. Snakes can kill, and some dogs bite and hang on. Danger may be lurking, and we give thanks when someone is kind enough to give us warning. A person may think he (or she) perfectly safe, yet if there is no warning of danger yet unperceived, great damage to one’s person can occur.
The Bible has some “beware’s” in it, but we often ignore them as they have to do with spiritual issues rather than physical, and since we think and operate in the physical realm naturally, but in the spiritual realm by choice, we act as if a “beware” in the scriptures warn of dangers of lesser consequence than warnings in someone’s front yard, or on a mountain where snakes like to congregate. In truth exactly the opposite is the case. A “beware” in the bible warns of danger to the soul and has eternal consequences, whereas a physical “beware” warns of immediate danger to your person, but without eternal consequence. We are going to look at one “beware” warning in the bible (there are several). Here it is:
Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Here the Holy Ghost says beware of covetousness! Then says “FOR a man’s life consisteth not… The word “for” ties the first clause with the second and makes the second a condition defining the first. God says “BEWARE”! Watch out! It wants to bite you. Be alert! Careful! Beware! There is danger to your soul. Eternity in heaven is yours for receiving Jesus Christ, but rewards are earned. How awful to stand at the judgment seat of Christ ashamed as our works perish being tried with fire!
Christ finishes the verse with a strong statement of what constitutes covetousness so you can “BE WARE” of it. So what is it in the verse? Should be obvious, but we’re gonna have to spell it out, because it is so subtle it has poisoned millions of professing Christians, and will with certainty find its conclusion as wood hay and stubble at the judgment seat of Christ.
Jesus Christ defines this form of coveting as having an abundance of useless material possessions; material possessions that have a grip on you; that are boxed up and moved every time you change residence. You would no more think of leaving them behind than you would leave one of your kids behind. The world recognizes the malady and calls it the “pack rat syndrome”.
Now I can hear groaning in the bleachers. Sure I have a lot of stuff, stuff that I don’t really need, and I haul it around and store it in my attic and garage, but I’m not covetous! I just like the stuff. You would not ignore an “earthly” warning sign, but glibly ignore God’s “beware”. You will pay the price, but it gets worse:
Col 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
Worse is an understatement! Covetousness is defined as Idolatry! Look what happened to King Saul.
1Sam 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
Saul was stubborn and rebellious. God likened it to witchcraft and idolatry. Stubbornly attempting to justify your covetousness could have devastating effects on your future. We look forward to reigning with Christ in his Kingdom. Could you be rejected because of covetousness, stubbornness translating into witchcraft? Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth? Saul was our “ensample”.
1Cor 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Idolatry; it is a heinous sin that God hangs a BEWARE sign on, Israel choked spiritually on it, and prosperous Americans have ignored the sign or just haven’t spent enough time in the word to have seen it. I write because I want my American Christian friends who have been “caught in the trap of culture” – prosperous American materialistic culture – to fare well and be rewarded with gold, silver and precious stones; to find themselves unashamed at his appearing. If you still seek to justify yourself, I have done my best. This one, once it has its teeth in you seems to lock in tight. Like the serpent that attached itself to Paul on Malta, he had to shake it loose. Can you? With some of you, it’s a security issue. Your heart (emotions) tells you you need the stuff, and to some of you it’s close to terrifying to think of living without it. Can you let go? I believe you can, but you may have to spend some time in Gethsemane before you do. Are you willing to take the chance that you could be wrong, and face the Lord at his judgment and explain to HIM why you kept all that stuff close to your heart? You do you know! The whole tenor of scripture is frugality when it comes to Things.
1Tim 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1Tim 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
1Tim 6:8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
Matt 6:19 Lay not up
for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and
where thieves break through and steal:
Matt 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
Matt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The warning is clear. Covetousness is a heart condition. You can have your rewards here on earth, with future shame, or you can lay them up in heaven where you may enjoy them forever. You cannot circumvent the words of Jesus Christ. Where your “treasure is” is where your heart is. Your heart belongs to HIM. It is now invested in a host of useless material possessions.
Well, let’s close this out with a refresh of our definition of Beware.
1. Speaks of danger unperceived - Biblical warnings warn of danger far worse than any physical danger.
of the word “beware” is to startle you into awareness. It differs from a
“warning” in that a warning normally confirms a danger that is generally already apparent.
3. The word beware is designed to catch your attention. Its purpose is to stop you from proceeding in the path you are presently on. You may proceed, but only at the risk of damage to your person.
May God open our eyes to his hatred of covetousness and idolatry.