Turn to Luke chapter 12:22-34 as we continue our way through this gospel. In the previous passage we saw a diagnosis of covetousness. The passage that we're going to study now has to do with the cure of covetousness. Jesus, having diagnosed the illness and held up the royal mirror of His Word that we might look into it and see our own sin, is now giving us direction on how we fight against that sin of covetousness.

Covetousness is a pervasive sin. We all struggle with it in one shape or form. It's important for us to remember that covetousness involves far more than money. It can involve overly desiring anything in this world, good or bad. And covetousness is a Gospel issue. Covetousness forces us to ask whether we love God more than stuff. It is also a heart issue. The apostle Paul said the tenth commandment, which forbids coveting, taught him that the law was spiritual. When you lie or steal, at least some people can know that, but when you covet, it is possible even for those closest to you to not have the slightest idea. That, Paul said, taught him that all sin has its root in the heart.

Let me say at the outset that the ways that God has given us to fight against this sin, and in fact against every sin, are three: we must believe, we must meditate, and we must pray. God wants you to believe certain truths that are absolutely necessary for you to fight covetousness. We have to meditate on what we say we believe in His Word, because it doesn't sink in overnight. And it requires that we pray, taking our coveting before the Lord and confessing it to Him.

Now we’ll look at this passage in three parts: Jesus’s arguments against anxiety, his surprising statement about covetousness, and his guidance on eliminating covetousness.

Jesus’s Arguments Against Anxiety and Worry from Coveting

In verses 22 to 30, you’ll see Jesus’ arguments against our anxiety and worry that come from coveting. Notice specifically four arguments that He gives in verses 22 to 30.

The first argument you see in verse 24: “Consider the ravens.” These birds don't have jobs, but God provides the food that they need to eat. If God provides for the birds, He’ll provide for you. He gives a second argument in verses 25 and 26: “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his life span?” Worry is ineffectual. When we are in circumstances we can’t change, we worry about it, but that fixes nothing. Instead, the answer is not to worry but to rest in God's sovereignty.

Third, He argues in verses 27 and 28, “Consider the lilies. They don't toil or spin, yet they’re arrayed in more glory than Solomon.” If God will clothe His earth in beauty even though it's temporary, don't you think He's concerned about clothing you? The person who is struggling with coveting believes that God is stingy. In fact He is incredibly generous to the point that He even made flowers and grass beautiful. Fourth, He says in verses 29 and 30, “Don't seek what you are to eat or drink, don't be worried. For the Gentiles, pagan unbelievers, seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.” Jesus wants you to meditate on the goodness of your Father and the fact that he knows what you need. Meditate on the Fatherhood, goodness, and omniscience of God.

Jesus tells you to fight your covetousness with the truth of God and faith in what God has promised. That's why we spend so much time working together to make sure that we understand what God teaches in His Word about Himself; it's all designed to help us in the fight against sin.

We Settle for Too Little When We Covet

Jesus gives this extraordinary counterstrike against coveting in verses 31 and 32. “Instead of worrying, seek His kingdom, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Jesus is saying that, when you are coveting what you don't have, your problem is you don't want enough. What you've set your heart on is too little. It wouldn't satisfy you or rid you of worry. If your heart is set on anything less than God and His kingdom through Jesus Christ, it will not fulfill your desires. God wants to give you far more than you have your heart set on.

How to Fight Covetousness

At the end of verse 31, Jesus adds a promise. “Seek first the kingdom and all these things will be added to you.” He's making a promise to kingdom-seekers that God will supply your needs. What does Paul say in Philippians 4:19? “My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not with Him freely give us all things?” It's a promise. And Jesus says to you, “Believe the promise.”

Look at verses 33 and 34. Jesus gives a call to disciples who want to reject the life of coveting. “Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” The last thing you need to do to defeat coveting is to be generous. If you are overly preoccupied with what you don't have, start giving away what you already have.

This does two things. First of all, it reminds you that God has provided for you generously because He's given you enough to be able to give some away. Secondly, it reminds you that the stuff you’re giving away isn't where you get your joy. And you’re blessed to be able to help someone in need. This is why generosity is not optional in the Christian life. You will not be able to defeat covetousness if you are not generous because if you are not generous you are probably still coveting stuff.

Now all of these things are in vain if the Spirit is not working the Gospel deep into our hearts. Coveting comes down to the issue of what you desire most. This is exactly the struggle that Eve faced with Satan in the Garden. What do I want more, God or this piece of fruit? She and Adam chose the piece of fruit, and that's what's happening every time we covet.

What can avail for us in that battle? Only the Gospel can break sin’s power and set us free to worship the living God and seek his kingdom. And how do you seek the kingdom? You care more about God than anything in this world. You care more about your soul than about the treasures of this life. You long to see the Gospel advanced in your heart and in the hearts of others. You long to see God's glory in this world displayed. You care more about those things than anything else, and only the Gospel can do that in a person.