Take Heed and Beware of Covetousness
by Ken Gardner

Chris Weber is a professional basketball player, and he must be a good one because Nike, the shoe manufacturer, recently asked him to endorse a line of their basketball shoes. Surprisingly, however, Weber said no. All he had to do was simply say yes and he would have been given more money than you or I will see in a lifetime. But he didn't. Why? Because he felt Nike was charging too much for the shoes--$150. He was also upset because Nike was targeting inner-city youths in its marketing campaign for the shoes. So because of his principles Chris Weber turned down a small fortune.

We of course commend Weber for his courage and convictions, but this incident also illustrates the sordid nature of covetousness, both on the part of corporations and individuals. Believe it or not, these $150 shoes cost $5 to make--that's right, $5 for labor and materials. The rest of the money is for advertising. So if you were to fork over $150 for a pair of these shoes, you would be spending $5 on the shoes and $145 for the neat Nike commercials you see on TV. Some value. In addition Nike, in its advertising, targets inner-city youths, who cannot afford the shoes in the first place, because they know that teens in urban areas, who can afford the shoes, will want to follow the trend set by their poorer neighbors. If you don't think that is the case, just consider how popular gang-style clothing is in urban areas.

Now what does all this say about our attitudes? It says we want, want, want. It says we want what others have, and we'll take it if we can't afford it, and if someone gets hurt, so what. It says we want more and more, and we'll get it, and if the poor are used and taken advantage of, so what. It says we want what is trendy and faddish, and if manufacturers and advertisers are make fools out of us, so what. It says we want what is shocking, and if we are copying the rebellious, so what. It says we want what the world has, and if that makes us worldly, so what.

So what? I'll tell you so what. WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD--we are not people of the world! We are not "fashioned according to this world" (Romans 12:1-2), we are not friends of the world and thus enemies of God (James 4:4). And if the world doesn't love us (John 15:19)--so what! We "reprove" and have "no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (Ephesians 5:11), we "love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" (I John 2:15), and if the world doesn't recognize us as its "own" (John 15:19)--so what! We "seek those things that are above" and "set our affections on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2), and if others think we are out of step--so what! We PRACTICE MODERATION! (II Peter 1:6, "temperance"). Yes, we need and desire ample food, shelter and clothing (Matthew 6:19-34; it was not wrong for the Israelites to desire the land flowing with milk and honey that God promised them), and yes, we strive to do our best (Ecclesiastes 9:10), BUT . . . we desire neither poverty nor riches (Proverbs 30:7-9) and we recognize this world is not our home (Hebrews 11:13-16)--our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We desire rest, good health and long lives, but we don't go overboard in our recreational pursuits. We exercise and take vitamins, but we're not trying to live forever--at least not on this earth!

Our lives do not revolve around the television set, the Dallas Cowboys, high school football teams, or even politics. Our jobs are important and we work hard and honestly, but we have a life outside of work. Even our families we love and cherish and would die for are not as important to us as our God (Matthew 10:34-39). We "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33), we do not "seek to please men" but God (Galatians 1:10; I Thessalonians 2:4), and if the world thinks us odd--so what!

Fact of the matter is, we no longer live to ourselves, but we are crucified with Christ, who gave Himself for us, and He lives in us (Galatians 2:20). And if the world thinks us dead--they're right!