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Twin Sins of the Christmas Season

Posted on December 6, 2022

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of the year, but it also brings great temptation to all of us. Due to the nature of Christmas (the holiday), we can fall prey to two sins: greed and covetousness. Greed is the desire to have more and get more. Covetousness is the desire to have something that someone else owns. Covetousness, then, is born out of greed. You can be greedy without being covetous, but you cannot be covetous without first being greedy. If we’re not careful, Christmas will become a selfish holiday that’s more about getting what we want than reflecting on the greatest Gift, the Lord Jesus Christ. 




Greed is a consuming sin. It’s amazing how far people will go to get money (such as family fights over a deceased one’s inheritance). Some are consumed with status and fame; they will put themselves in deep debt to get a fancy sports car so others will be impressed. When John D. Rockefeller was asked how much money he needed to be happy, he replied, “Just a little more.”


Greed is also a corrupting sin. When a person finally gets the thing he wants, he finds out that it doesn’t satisfy. And so, he has to get more, and he will do anything to get it, including lying or stealing. Money and stuff cannot satisfy. The book of Proverbs warns us, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Pro. 30:8-9). 


The recession of 2008 caused many to fall prey to suicide. The New York Times recorded some of these surprising deaths: “Walter Buczynski was a top executive at a Maryland mortgage lender before he killed his wife and jumped off a bridge [in January 2008.]…A chief executive of an Arizona-based commercial lender wore a tuxedo, swallowed pills and lay down to die in June [2008] as his company collapsed. A suburban stock broker in Connecticut jumped from an 11th-story window in July; a private equity financier based in London leapt in front of a train in August. And [in October], a onetime dot-com millionaire shot five family members and himself in an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles, blaming the financial crisis for his woes.” 


All of these people lived for money, and when that money dried up, their greed would not allow them to live. Greed kills. Do you remember Greedy Gehazi? In II Kings 5, Gehazi (who was Elisha’s servant) runs after Naaman to get some fancy rewards from him. He lied in order to get those rewards, and in the end, he got Naaman’s old disease of leprosy. You see, Gehazi had the “gimme disease” aka greed. Greed kills. 




The sin of coveting is actually listed in the Ten Commandments (see Ex. 20:17). God covers all the bases here. Don’t covet a place, a person, or a possession that belongs to someone else. This reminds me of Achan in Joshua 7. God had commanded the Israelites not to take any spoils after their victory over Jericho (Josh. 6:18), but Achan could not control himself after he saw a Babylonian garment, some silver, and a wedge of gold. 


Notice Achan’s words after being caught: “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold…then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of the tent, and the silver under it” (Josh. 7:21). Notice the pattern: he saw, he coveted, and he took. This is how it always works. What’s funny is that Achan did not even get to enjoy those spoils. He had to hide them! 


Many times young people think, “If I could just get this thing, I would be happy!” That is a lie from the devil himself! The fact is, getting “things” does not satisfy you. Notice what Solomon came to recognize: “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity” (Eccl. 5:10). All of those things you want will not satisfy you. No doubt Achan saw those things and thought, “If I could just get those, I would be happy!” And he fell for that lie.


What’s the Solution?


The answer is found in I Timothy 6:6-8, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” Covetousness and contentment are always in battle. They are polar opposites. Covetousness is at max temptation during the Christmas season. We naturally want stuff, and so we tend to lean towards covetousness. But God says that we gain more when we are content. 


So what can you do? First, recognize that you can’t take anything with you to heaven (v. 7). The Egyptians thought they could, and that’s why they stuffed their tombs full of riches. But all the riches of this life are only temporary, and you won’t need them in heaven. Second, you should be content to have your needs met (v. 8). We live in very affluent times. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need the newest gadget (you don’t!). God promises to meet your daily needs (Matt. 6:25-33), not to give you all the newest things. 


A Christmas list can be fine, but it can also fuel your greed. Ask yourself this: “If I don’t get that one thing that I really want for Christmas this year, will I still enjoy Christmas?” If the answer is no, then Christmas is all about you, and you have the gimme disease (take the time to look up Heb. 13:5 and Luke 12:15). This year for Christmas, don’t make the focus on getting what you want. Don’t look at others and become jealous of what you don’t have. Recognize that your Heavenly Father has given you everything that you need. And if you can be content, this will be a far more blessed Christmas for you and your family. 

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