The Thing. It’s a strange thing, because it’s there and not there at the same time. What I’m talking about is The Thing that you don’t have that you think you need in order to be happy. And you know when The Thing is there because you begin to feel a low-grade panic that you don’t have it. The Thing makes you afraid that by not having The Thing you’re missing out.
What is The Thing? This is essential to define if we want to fight the fear that The Thing tempts us with.
The first thing we need to get clear is that The Thing is not actually a real thing. It’s a fantasy. It’s attaching our deep longing for happiness to the belief that a person or possession or achievement or status or experience will produce it rather than God or his promises. It’s the belief that something apart from God holds a key to our happiness if only we could have it or more of it.
The Bible calls The Thing covetousness (Exodus 20:17). The sin of coveting is a faithless desire to possess something that doesn’t belong to us, fueled by an idolatrous belief that it will satisfy us. The desire is “faithless” because it isn’t rooted in our trust in God’s promises. And it is “idolatrous” because we invest in the object of our desire the power to satisfy us that belongs only to God.
Jesus warns us about The Thing in this text:
“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
Jesus goes right to the heart of The Thing’s deception: It promises us life in some kind of possession, which has no life to give. The Thing is our belief that we can get life from an idol.