"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed ...." (Luke 12:15)

"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." (Luke 12:15)

Why did Jesus say this?

Jesus is responding to a question asked by one of his students, who had asked:

"Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." (Luke 12:13)

Which Jesus responded with: 

"Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" (Luke 12:14)

Now Jesus is reflecting on this concern of his student regarding his inheritance - and those possessions contained within the inheritance. He was warning them about the nature of greed and the desire to accumulate possessions - based upon the misidentification of the self.

Why did Jesus say, 'Watch out'?

Jesus is warning his students about the illusion of possessions, based upon the illusions of the physical world:
  • The illusion that we are these physical bodies;
  • The illusion that this world is our home;
  • The illusion that we are permanent here;
  • The illusion that the possessions of the physical world will fulfill us.
These physical bodies are vehicles we drive for a while before they break down. They are not our real identity. This is why as our body's age we cannot believe we are this old. We don't want to hear how old our bodies are because we can't identify with our age. And when we see our bodies in photos or videos we are typically in denial - or ashamed - 'that can't be me!'

This is also why we feel we are the same person even though our body has changed from a young body to an older body. When we look at a picture of our body when it is young - this is a completely different body. All the molecules have been recycled (every five years) and have been replaced by new molecules - a scientific fact.

What remains is our inner self. This is our true identity. This is why a quadriplegic is considered a whole person even though the body cannot walk. We consider a person of a different color as equal because innately we know there is equality within. This is because we know - deep within - that we are deeper than these bodies. We are spiritual in essence - not the physical body. We are the soul - the inner person within - which cannot be seen by the physical eyes because it is made of another substance or plane of existence.

And since we are spiritual, not physical, the physical possessions of this physical world cannot fulfill us. Physical possessions may surround our body but they do not nourish the spirit-person within.

It would be like a driver of a car becoming hungry and driving up to a gas station and thinking that if he fills his car up with gas he won't be hungry anymore. Sorry - but filling the gas tank will not fill up the stomach of the driver - because the driver is not the car: The same way that we are not these physical bodies.

This is why people with all the wealth and possessions imaginable - the richest people in the world - are still not fulfilled. They have not become satisfied by all their wealth and all their possessions. Because those possessions don't touch the person within.

Why did Jesus warn them to be 'on guard against greed'?

Jesus was warning them about self-centeredness. When we are self-centered, we want to fill ourselves up - we want to be self-satisfied. Because of the illusions related to misidentifying ourselves as these bodies, we think possessions - or sex, or the acclaim of others - will make us happy.

Once we arrive at this self-centered conclusion, there is no end to our search for pleasure because we never find it by gaining the things of the physical world. So we keep looking - all the while becoming more desperate because we are still empty.

Thus greed can come in many forms: For wealth, possessions, achievements, fame, sexual or other physical pleasure and so on.

When greed advances without fulfillment it can turn into anger. From there it can turn into violence.

What about 'an abundance of possessions'?

The word "life" is being translated from the Greek word ζωή (zōē). This means, according to the lexicon, "the state of one who is possessed of vitality or is animate;" and "every living soul."

So if "life" - of the living soul or inner person - does not consist of the accumulation of possessions, what does it consist of?

To the point about possessions, we can mention that there is a saying that he who dies with the most stuff wins - but is this true? What do they win?

Nothing. Because that's what they will be left with - nothing. All our possessions are taken away from us at the time of death. Everything - all our money, our house, our wife or husband, our family, our job, our reputation, everything - will vanish for us.

What will we be left with? Our consciousness. Our desires and whatever relationship (or lack thereof) we have developed with the Supreme Being.

And it is these desires - and our consciousness - that will determine where we go at the time of death. And whatever relationship we've developed with the Supreme Being will determine whether or not we take on a new body within the physical world or go to our real home in the spiritual realm with the Supreme Being.

What is permanent?

Our relationship with the Supreme Being is permanent. Our relationship with God will outlast our various physical relationships of this world. When our bodies die, so do our physical relationships.

Our real family is with the Supreme Being. All of His children are our brothers and sisters. And He is not only our Father - our Creator. He is also our Best Friend and Soul Mate. He is the Soul Mate we spend our lives looking for (and never find) within the physical realm. He is that Best Friend we seek out among our different relationships of the world - most of which we become disappointed with.

And if we focus our consciousness and point our desires towards coming to know and love the Supreme Being - this will fulfill us. This will complete us and satisfy us.

This is because the inner person - the spirit-person within - is only satisfied by love and loving service. This is the food that fulfills us because we were created to exchange a loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is why Jesus said:
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
Jesus states that doing the will of the Supreme Being - serving Him with love - is what satisfies Jesus. It is was motivates him. It is what feeds him.

This applies to each of us. We can only become fulfilled when we are tasting love for the Supreme Being and serving Him with love. This is why Jesus' most important teaching was:
" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)